This book was written in 1922. There are no signs of satire.
(This is where I plug Jack and Kate over at Bad Books for Bad People, they have a great episode all about this).
Anyway! Games. Whilst unspeakably horrifying to any human being even remotely on the spectrum of decency, the cyclic forever war is damn good gaming material. So for that purpose I shall use it.
War, huh? What's it good for?
The two main belligerents in the Ouroboros War are Demonland (led by the Lords Juss, Spitfire, and Goldry Bluszco) and Witchland (led by King Gorice XII). Everyone seems to be human for whatever reason.
Witchland has a bunch of minor client nations allied to them (Goblinland, Pixieland, Impland, etc. All of varying reliability), at least one competent political advisor, and a black magician. Demonland tends to field Big Strong Distressingly-Aryan Big Strong Men What Fight Good And They Are The Best And Noblest Because They Are Big and Strong And Also Manchildren.
Actual foot soldiers? Ha, fuck them, they don't matter in this story. All the actual consequences of war get a single sentence.
The important thing is that everyone remembers what happened in the last loop. The world state resets, the dead are now alive again, but no one forgets. Each time it will be different, but the end result will always be the same.
Everything Old is New AgainGame premise: You are all soldiers and peasantry who have been on the receiving end of the Ouroboros War for 3 / 5 / 10 / 20 / 50 / 100 cycles. You are engaged in a desperate attempt to stop the cycle and depose the Lords, if possible. By now you know that Juss' queen, Sophonisba, is responsible for the hell the world finds itself in. She called upon the gods, and they answered her. Perhaps she can call upon them again, if she had a conscience.
But she is always in the presence of the Lords, and that is a great problem: the Lords are either at the head of their army, or wandering around in the wilderness halfway around the world. Defeating them in direct combat is unlikely, given how Big and Strong they are. There are potential allies to be found in certain members of the court of Witchland (though that nation is likewise filled with meatheaded manchildren) and perhaps among the minor nations, but that must be saved until the cycle is broken. Killing the Lords now will do nothing but give Witchland the round.
It is likely that you will all die. This is only a temporary problem, because you will return in the next cycle with all the knowledge you gained the last time.
Edit: And then Dark Souls Happens
Type1Ninja in the OSR Discord said that my description sounded a lot like Dark Souls III. Lords of Cinder constantly perpetuating a cycle, rejected nobody ends up either perpetuating or ending the cycle. Aesthetically, Souls games are the polar opposite of The Worm Ouroboros, which can only mean that the interaction and synthesis of the two is a great idea.
Worm Ouroboros is public domain, and there's a good deal of fun imagery to pull from it, but wow is the ending horrific.ReplyDelete
Ah yes, the classic Hegelian Worm Ouroboros/Dark Souls dialecticReplyDelete
It's not the strangest connection I've ever drawn.Delete
The naming conventions for the nations are weirdReplyDelete
Honestly, though, are the heroes actually demons??Delete
Wikipedia says that much of the setting originated in his youth, so I wager that anything that sounds like it was written by a 10 year old probably was.Delete
Also the demons are mentioned to have horns exactly once, and only during the framing device that is abandoned immediately. So I have no idea.Delete
I just downloaded the free eBook, but I've been hesitant to jump in. Worth a read?ReplyDelete
If nothing else, it's a really interesting historical piece.Delete