Sunday, November 3, 2013

The Circus Parade (also Drunken Dragons #whatever crossover)

Day 3
DIGRESSION: I never played YuGiOh but during the height of the show and the game's popularity here in the west I did work at a couple of Books-A-Millions that held tournaments every Saturday, during some part of which I invariably worked. Society broke down. I have never seen anything more closely resembling the Lord of the Flies in my own life. So to try and at least understand what these kids were even close to talking about for my actual job, I started watching that horrible cartoon when there was nothing else on. It is a terrible terrible thing and My desire to never again experience anything like it is only outweighed by the amount of anime like it which exists. There is a phrase FROM the show, however, which sums up one of my favorite kinds of rpgable D&Dish antagonist or obstacle: the Trap Monster. I love these in nature, from the antlion to the pitcher plant, and so I love them in games.

Okay now this is gonna sound like a digression but totally isn't: I'm a fan of the 7 Faces of Doctor Lao.

Not because it's a great movie, because it's not, and not because I'm a big George Pal fan, because yes I am but he doesn't get as much a chance to show off here as he does in other movies, and not because I'm a huge Tony Randall fan, because my favorite Tony Randall moment is a SNL sketch where he mostly stood there while Tom Hanks was great. And it's not because I'm a huge fan of horrifyingly racist caricatures, either. It's because I think any morality play is made better by the addition of monsters and/or cowboys.

Anyway if you haven't seen it: Tony Randall is Chinese (OH MY GOD) and also a yeti and Greek and Merlin and so forth, a tour de forcey and stuff, and also Medusa is there and the guy trying to commit graft is also a snake for a minute. And there's a point in the movie where every weird thing in Dr. Lao's circus comes out, before the entire assembled town because there's nothing else to do in this town, and slowly the acts which they've already seen all weekend parade past, leading to a big showstopper wher Dr. Lao lazerFloyds the audience of western yokels into not giving up their railroad land to Hedley Lamar. Also Tony Randall is clearly right there sitting in the audience the whole time that other Tony Randalls are wandering around which at the time was brain KABOOOOMMMMM.....

Now back up here with me for a moment okay?

The parade doesn't end.

Pause while I drink more scotch.

You walk in and sit in some chairs. The show begins. A grotesque being appears. You applaud, because that's what is expected of you.
Another comes out, this one more bizarre than the last one. You clap, a bit more nervously, and the audience begins to murmur.
Another being appears, and now the audience is silent, occasionally clapping, unsure how long this is going to go on now...
and it goes on
And on
And on
Another
Another
Another

They're all unusual, captivating, exciting, and new, each more strange and unique than the last. They're real, too! You can touch them, smell them, hear them, taste them, they do their thing, SOMETIMES bow or approximate one, and then venture on past you behind another curtain, one which leads....?

This is mistaken for a spell effect but instead it is a creature which makes other creatures. Saving means you get to fight your way out against all of the horrors you've seen, and you get to save after each act exits...in theory, but the longer you stay the more likely your death is because the more monsters you'll have to face.

Sometimes the creatures are benevolent, so if you hold out long enough maybe there will be a powerful ally who...damn, okay maybe the next one...damn, okay maybe the NEXT one....

You know you can't get up and leave until it's over. You are convinced of that much more than you are of your own existence. But it will never be over. Neither will you: you are not immortal, truly, or trapped in time. You will AGE, like TITHONIUS, and you will watch forever, and the longer you watch the more monsters you will make.

The act of watching and being horrified by the monsters creates more monsters from within the monster, who is a place, and therefore also a trap, and the act of escape involved you either being dragged out a helpless sack of potatoes or fighting your way past the entire assembled horrors of the defiance of imagination. In a way it's like that Treehouse of Horror and you have to save against sprinkles.

Circuses like these can be killed by completely destroying or immolating them. There's a Frieza final form kind of thing that shows up sometimes, again like the end of Dr. Lao, but otherwise will go quietly. Surprising nobody, this conceptual creature often hides in underground places like cave systems, sanctums, temples, or dungeons.