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Lucius Mattheson

Favourite Malifaux Stories

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Perhaps there is a necrotic thread for this sort of thing, waiting for a Resurrectionist, but I thought I would start one: what is your favourite Malifaux story and where can it be found?

Mine is ''The Portrait'' by N.A. Wolff, ''Crossroads'' pp. 14-22. Also, for obvious reasons, the other Lucius cycle stories, which I rank equally highly. The best constructed is  ''The Assassin's Ball'' (Graham Stevenson, Wyrd Chronicles no. 5 pp. 5-16), also of great merit is  ''Unmask! Unmask!'' (Matthew Farrrer Wyrd Chronicles no. 9, pp. 9-20).

Of outstanding merit, I think,  is Hoffman's story in ''Crossroads'' (by Matthew Farrer again, entitled ''A Night at the Races'', pp. 9-12).

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I like the one where Lady J breaks into Nicodem's lair and has it dropped on her. Great characterisation for both Masters and really painted a picture in my mind. Think it's in Rising Powers? Definitely one of the v1.5 books anyway.

 

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There is a lot of great stories, but four that immediately came to my mind are:

  • The story about a witchling stalker in... Twisting Fates, I believe?
  • The story about the revolver with triangular cylinder in one of the older books.

Sorry, can't recall the titles nor where I read them.

  • Unappreciated in My Time by Mike Wallace in Wyrd Chronicles, vol. 29.
  • Master of Fate by David McGuire in M2E Shifting Loyalties.
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Mr. McCabe: You are correct, the story is indeed in ''Rising Powers'', entitled 'Pestilence', pp. 231 to 238, if my memory serves me no author's name is given.  A very vivid picture indeed.

Phinn -- Yes, aren't there? I only gave a very few. The story you are thinking of is 'Puzzle Box', which is indeed in ''Twisting Fates'', writer not given, pp. 148-157  (a fascinating story). To my considerable annoyance I cannot call the second to mind.

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Not sure of which Wyrd Chronicles it was in but by far my favourite story was the Dark Carnival one

Equal all time joint favourite was The Return Of The Queen in Ripples of Fate

Having declared those my winners I must also add that I appreciate greatly all the time,skill and effort that goes into all of the Malifaux stories be they in the rulebooks or Chronicles and I read them all regardless of faction...even though I don't play TTB I have also bought some of the one shots and rulebooks  just to get more background stories and ideas of how Malifaux might be

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I read all of the stories (Faction notwithstanding) scrupulously too, even though I presently possess not a miniature!  They are indeed the product of tremendous effort and one I admire hugely. One can glean so much and I suspect we all have different visions of Malifaux.

The 'Dark Carnival' can be found in issue eighteen of the Chronicles, pp. 8-18, a work by Graeme Stevenson. 'The Return of the Queen' can be found on pp. 94-105 of ''Ripples of Fate'', also by Mr. Stevenson.

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Puzzle Box, yes, that's the one I was thinking about, @Lucius Mattheson :)
I really liked how it took something so... faceless as a Witchling Stalker and gave it so personal story :)

Blind Man's Iron is the one about the gun with triangular bullet drum. Found it :) It is featured in Storm of Shadows.

A Long Night in Red Row - also featured in Storm of Shadows - is also one of my favorites. It's the one about Collodi, but... if I remember correctly it's not Collodi as we know him now, but something that later became Collodi. I liked the mystery and horror :)
And I like stories about Collodi as such. Such beautiful and tragic story about lonelines and misunderstanding. Kind of reminds me of Edward Scissorhands. The Hidden Music by Jonathan Boynton and his profile entry, both in M2E Crossroads.

 

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2 hours ago, Phinn said:

Puzzle Box, yes, that's the one I was thinking about, @Lucius Mattheson :)
I really liked how it took something so... faceless as a Witchling Stalker and gave it so personal story :)

Blind Man's Iron is the one about the gun with triangular bullet drum. Found it :) It is featured in Storm of Shadows.

A Long Night in Red Row - also featured in Storm of Shadows - is also one of my favorites. It's the one about Collodi, but... if I remember correctly it's not Collodi as we know him now, but something that later became Collodi. I liked the mystery and horror :)
And I like stories about Collodi as such. Such beautiful and tragic story about lonelines and misunderstanding. Kind of reminds me of Edward Scissorhands. The Hidden Music by Jonathan Boynton and his profile entry, both in M2E Crossroads.

 

Yes, Puzzle Box is excellent: you are quite right, it is a glimpse into the mind of something both faceless and wretched. 

I never thought of Edward Scissorhands . I think it was too near to me to see the resemblance as it was one of my late aunt's favourite films (I got the taste for the ''gothic'' from her -- she published an annotated collection of ghost-stories by Margaret Oliphant years ago and told me frightening yarns as a child during long power-cuts when the always irregular electricity cut out). Yes, it's an interesting comparison.

The Hidden Music is sublimely good -- Collodi perceiving an ever-dying music, fading over the years, renewed, a little, by the joy of the very children he steals (which is beautiful), but also by their agony when he butchers and bleeds them, which seems like a hideous sadism shot with foul humour and contempt for the humans he so easily deceives, similar the beautiful-hideous aesthetic musical delight he feels in the Coryphee. Yet the moment of fear evoked by blades and flames causing us almost to pity him, the gift which is  ambiguous: it might be an act of hatred, a treacherous puppet that will slay its recipient as Venn's little dolls did from afar, but I believe it to be genuine, a brief lapse by Collodi into what he once was, and so terribly sad -- Collodi has had the hideous fading melody brightened by a new rhythm, a little solace for a little while. His stiff, chivalrous gratitude is one of the last things anyone would expect from such a child-snatching monster, as men might see him, one of the great sadnesses of Malifaux.

I find it very personally touching as I suffer from Asperger's Syndrome [obviously writing as P. Gray, not with the literary conceit of Lucius Mattheson!] : the only courtesy I have ever had the courage to pay to the only young lady I have ever felt anything for -- the same gratitude for beauty, not romance, at least I read of it in novels describing the healthy majority of people or see in my dear sister, which I barely feel -- was in the same stiff, obscure form with the same desperate search for the appropriate words, running through remembered imitations, and the same archaism in the message. Thus the Neverborn monster, for a moment, was very like myself, which is both deeply disturbing and fascinating.

Of course, your perception and sense of tragedy is no less nor in any whit inferior to mine: every response to a work of art is valid, I think.

Tragedy and beauty are very high qualities, Collodi's stories embody both [incidentally, the name Collodi is taken from the pen-name of the author of Pinocchio, the original ended in the hanging of the recreant child puppet). Malifaux's world is tremendously subtle, elegant, horrifying and beautifully crafted. You will not, to my mind, find such a creation in any novel I know of (I find, say, Tolkien quite stale and uninteresting). It is a true delight.

Red Row  is a masterpiece of horror and of terror (if we take horror to be the reaction to a vile known and terror to be anticipation of unseen evil). I think the connection between Collodi and Venn is deliberately obscure, somewhat like the connection between the Sandman, Coppelius and Coppola in Hoffman's Nachtstuecke (three dimly connected malign presences, all associated with the hideous fate of losing one's eyes -- hence the Neverborn Coppelius, who closely resembles the second in the older, to my mind superior, sculpt, down to the peruke barely reaching the crown of his head). There was a thread in 2013 debating the relationship between the two, but I personally prefer to leave them a loose accretion, a constellation of ideas, leaving room for doubt, mystery and fear.

Incidentally, I give a list of sources and pagination for the stories you mention:

Red Row is as you say ''Storm of Shadows'' pp. 128-140

The Hidden Music can be found pp. 140-146 of ''Crossroads''.

I worry this response is excessively personal, I alternate between social stiffness and confiding too much -- please do edit it if it is wrong.

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Thank you -- I am only a Malifaux beginner, despite a great deal of reading, and have yet to listen to the Breachside Broadcasts.

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Very interesting read, @Lucius Mattheson. Thank you for sharing :)

It has been a very long times since I have read the stories about Collodi, but I remember that I felt that Collodi isn't truly evil.
In The Hidden Music I felt like he just wanted to create and preserve something beautiful and did't understand nor even perceived the horror he was causing. Like if somebody told us that the plastic that we cut into in order to assamble and paint our models can suffer pain and feel horror.
In his profile entry I just felt sorry for him. He was wronged and so full of pain that he needed to share it with the world.
As I said, it has been a very long time though. And it is possible that if I were to read those stories today I would feel differently. It's like when you listen to a song with ambiguous lyrics - different people (or people in different stages of their lives) might perceive different meanings of the lyrics, depending on what they are currently going through.

7 hours ago, Lucius Mattheson said:

The original [of Pinocchio] ended in the hanging of the recreant child puppet.

I didn't know that :)
When we were training for our thesis defense at school we were supposed to do a short presentation about something that interests us. I chose the story about Sleeping Beauty and how it developed over the course of time. The original - like it is with all old fairytales - was very dark and twisted (the prince raped her in her sleep).

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There are quite a lot of good stories I think, some of which have already been mentioned. 

A Great Adventure is one of my favourites. I like the story structure and the parts about the Teddy are just adorable and creepy at the same time. It is from one of the later books in 1st ed. Not sure which, but like all older stories it can be found on Breachside broadcast.

The Final Word from Storm of Shadows is cool. Especially the ending. It really speaks about what kind of place Malifaux is.

I also think that most of the stories from Broken Promises are really good. Price of Freedom shows a more interesting side of the Guild. 

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43 minutes ago, Mortarion said:

Great Adventure is one of my favourites.

Is that the one where weaver makes the teddy and it wander off looking for someone to hug? Because if so it's awesome.

Must check out some of the newer fluff. Don't think I've read past book 2!

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1 hour ago, lusciousmccabe said:

Is that the one where weaver makes the teddy and it wander off looking for someone to hug? Because if so it's awesome.

Yeah. It starts of at the scene of a murder and then splits up into three different stories. One about a Teddy, partially seen from his perspective, one about the people involved in the investigation being haunted by something and one about a mercenary. 

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I really liked Master of Fate in Shifting Loyalties. The interactions between Lilith, Pandora and Zoraida were great.

If we're accepting TOS stories, Little Star in the newest Chronicles is really good. They're doing Chaos corruption better than GW did themselves.

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Can't say I've read or listened much of the fluff. I did read Luther's (alt blessed) Chronicles #17 story while I was painting him. Not something I often do but it gave me more appreciation for the character. Nice story too. Malifaux, orphans, little something to eat...

Might have to give Breachside Broadcast a listen one of these days when I paint.

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Firstly, it's excellent to see so many responses, very, very good indeed.

Phinn:

Yes, we all seem to approach the same material from slightly different slants, even if one reads the same story twice at different times or in different moods. The analogy with miniature craftsmanship is at once fascinating and disturbing again, thank you, I shall copy it into my commonplace book.

Yes, our fairy-tales have all become sugar and sentiment, just as in France in the seventeenth century they were rendered in elegant and beautiful silvery prose for the salons of Mme. d'Aulnoy and the précieuses. As you say, the old tales are very dark, near in fact to the most ancient human fears (from wherever they may spring), in Malifaux the forms of the Neverborn.

Mortarion:

''A Great Adventure'' is to be found in text form in ''Ripples of Fate'', pp. 203-216. Quite fascinating, on account of the Widow as well as the Teddy: a glimpse of a pitiful, child-like creature unaware of its horror or of the hideous deaths of its victims (the appalling pulping and mutilation conveyed by the ''naughty box'' and ''number blocks'' are quite sickening as they should be, the grotesque game of hide-and-seek with torn-out eyes). One would assume that the creator, the Widow, would be quite evil, but Malifaux is more subtle -- and a good deal darker -- than such simple conceptions, she possesses a perverted parody of love for her creations -- presumably anticipating, intending the horrors they will wreak, but grieved by their departure after so much work. 

Also the terrible family -- corpse, blood-puppet and hideous monster that maims and kills with love and whose ''clumsy mistakes'' rip open a woman's chest.

''The Final Word'' can be found on pp. 6-17 of ''Storm of Shadows''. Also of great merit in that edition is the ''Malifaux Orphanage for Sick Children'', -- ''double for a nice young one like this'' -- which is pp. 18-23 and incidentally the origin of Iggy. The sheer wickedness of human nature, the worthlessness of life, greed for money -- the orphanage itself -- and the sinister, elegant Miss Dora.

Loki:

 ''Master of Fate'' can be found on pp. 138-151. It is some time since I read it, thank you for bringing it back to my attention.

TOS is not for me (all a matter of taste), but I thought that ''Little Star'' was truly brilliant in parts, innocent but deeply unsettling, especially when we consider that the Burning Man consists of the incandescent (and presumably agonising) remnants of the Governor-General.

The following is simply private speculation, my own views: I remember my old Art mistress telling me that all personal responses to a work of art are equally valid (Lest that sound very grand, I mean the art-mistress at what I believe is called grade or elementary school in America. I cannot and never could paint or draw on account of a permanent tremor in my hands thanks to a serious haemorrhage in my brain as an infant, producing mild cerebral palsy, so my art-lessons largely consisted in plundering books of illustrations for impressions for the imagination -- hence it is so kind of you to admit me as an ''observer'') and I tend towards such a view myself. I would be interested to see if others' reflections (likely deeper than mine) produced a like response.

It's interesting that the Man itself is never strictly implied to be malign. I think of it as faintly akin to Lovecraft's Azathoth: neither evil nor scheming in itself, likely incapable of either, senseless with pain if it possesses any life or consciousness at all [I believe it to be screaming in agony and despair], yet to its ''followers'' (if my guess is right, of whom it is unaware) a sort of aetheric beacon on account of the sheer force of magical power released and hence an apparent sign of madness and ruin accompanied by a solar wind of magic that will devour and deform.

Nikodemus:

I am not familiar with the Broadcasts, but reading all of the stories is well worth the time, believe me!

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For humor, just by a nose I prefer Formaldehyde Nights (Wyrd Chronicles 6) to the Gremlin stories, although those are excellent too. My heart may belong to stompybots, but McMourning has my brain. I think you'll like the tonal shift at the end, too, as it veers abruptly back to the grimness of Malifaux.

I appreciate the skill of crafting the despair at the beginning of The Rising Sun in Storm of Shadows. I think it's mostly contained in the prologue and the epilogue bracketing the story. But I can't like it; it's too dark for me. Which is why I put the humor first.

But for stabbing me with single-line details I had forgotten I had lived, for making me question the authorial voice (and it's once per decade that someone manages to break the shackles of their early childhood mold and write with a voice which does not carry the stamp of how he, or she, was regarded then), I have to hold Matthew Farrer in highest regard. Haven't met a story of his I didn't like. Even though he wrote Anna Lovelace, that thieving, hysterical, arrogant, shrewish, thieving bitch.

 

...I kinda thought you were homeschooled, or maybe what Teacher would refer to as a treasure-from-the-virgin-vault. But (wandering off on a tangent back to the few writers who remain in the Writing Room) getting into the head of 'Teacher', a slightly sanitized Leveticus, makes me uncomfortable. I've had a completed battle narrative in queue for weeks because I keep giving it another look before posting and finding something else which can be taken in a very wrong way. And I haven't got the gift to tell two tales at once consciously, so each little trace has to be scrubbed clean.

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I just remembered the story about the Brilliance addicted inventor. Think it's in Storm of Shadows.

It was maybe a little derivative but superbly put together. Which to me is what Malifaux is all about. 😀

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Gnomezilla:

I had forgotten to mention ''Formaldehyde Nights'', pp. 4-15 of vol. 17 of the Chronicles. As you say it is a highly skillful balance of horror and humour with a marked turn to blackness at the end. The anatomical details are correct and the sardonic grace and politesse, and, beneath, cold terror [in the sense of anticipation of some unnknown: we will, I hope, never know what lies behind the perpetual expression of mild, gilded humour] , of the Secretary is beautifully conveyed. 

You have also struck on the distinction, one that I altogether overlooked, between liking a story and deeming it skilfully done. Personally I choose based on the glimpses they show of the dark world Breachside however horrible, but once again there are many paths.

''The Rising Sun'' is a bitter, black despairing story, quite nearly akin to the Lovecraftian model but made more tragic by far a) by the mystery and ambiguity of his interlocutor -- who is gone and who remains and b) because of its capturing of a little petty love in a lodging-house destroyed by horror from without. The story is, incidentally, pp. 25-32 of Storm of Shadows.


Matthew Farrer is a fine writer: my own efforts are badly marked by the childhood mould, as clearly as Crown Derby! Incidentally, Anna Lovelace's name is a reference to Ada,  the Countess of Lovelace, the only legitimate child of the poet Byron, who was a first-rate mathematician and collaborator w. Charles Babbage on the forebears of the computer.
 

My own education was rather odd -- home-study, then a primary school with three pupils (one was my sister), then a state secondary for a time but as my health is poor a great deal of my learning comes from my aunt's library, which was far more congenial, and I was effectively home-tutored for my examinations.

 

Luscious:

That's ''The Rising Sun''. Certainly it belongs to a long tradition of weird fiction but I think it manages to acquire merit on its own grounds -- which, as you say, is one of the joys of Malifaux.

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One of my personal favorites is "The Dead Man's Ball" by Christopher Gorham. I love his depiction of the Resurrectionist faction as less of a cult or organization, and more like a vastly extended family of powerful yet jaded aristocrats, who will happily welcome anyone who proves to be part of the family, but are otherwise content to scheme and plot and rave against one another. 

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Once again, you have my thanks for replying. ''The Dead Man's Ball'' is Shifting Loyalties pp. 93-107. A fascinating look at the Resurrectionists: as you say, a family of intellectual aristocrats, set apart from, and ''above'' conventional moralities, condescending to inferiors, prone to petty quarrels, but when one has such power at one's command petty quarrels are both violent and often (temporarily or permanently) fatal. The story possesses one of the most effective hideous endings I know of: Gwenifer has quite passed beyond 'morality' with her growing power and will commit at least a bloody triple murder to provide new subjects. Also, I fancy, petty revenge on the girls -- such power, as I suggested, magnifies and perverts (according to our morality) one's view of the world and death becomes quite commonplace.

Incidentally, I have an erratum: ''Unmask!, Unmask'' is in Issue 14 of the Chronicles.

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I am very grateful for your reply. To my considerable annoyance (I pride myself on my memory) I cannot immediately lay hands on the volume and the pagination of the story in question. I shall attempt to supply them tomorrow: I have spent a great deal of the day putting up with travelling, which I dislike!

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Mr. Werdipi has kindly provided the issue, and, in doing so, the reason that I quite missed the story in question: I expected to find it under ''Death of Nicodeme'' and forgot altogether that Nicodeme meets his fate in the second part of ''Nemesis'', which all along lay in Wyrd Chronicles issue 33, pp. 52-68, the work of Mason Crawford, ''under my very nose''. Most annoying!

The first part can be found on pp. 47-56 of the thirtieth issue.

An interesting story with some excellent vignettes, isn't it? The convergence, almost, of Lady Justice and her Marshals with the horrors they fight, the political quadrille started by the appointment of Governor Marlow (the Secretary and the Lady), Lucius' elegant manipulation of the Lady to obtain his end, the glimpse of emotion and grief even in the blind, righteous Justice and the final twist (made more effective by Nicodeme's horror, not rage, nor a melodramatic cry of ''foiled'', but at last real, human fear in the Lord of the Dead), taken advantage of so adroitly by Mortimer, who possesses a good deal of simple animal cunning and a great deal of black humour.

Although implied in the ''Dead Man's Ball'' when used for resurrection, it also provides a mechanism for the magickal medicine made possible by Soulstones, which gives greater force to the utilitarian justification of the Guild's constant harvest of the poor, weak, wretched and insane to maintain the flow of magic. It is a chilling thought, but I think a very likely one, that we would accept the same price if the comforts of our modern civilisation, the Internet, the mass-production of an industrial age and the comparative leisure and opulence of life it gives, the telephone, train, motor-car happened to be the return.

Once more you have my thanks.

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