The King In Yellow

Some Byakhees don’t know the true tale of The King In Yellow

“You are speaking of the King in Yellow,” I groaned, with a shudder.

“He is a king whom emperors have served.”

“I am content to serve him,” I replied.

– Robert W Chambers, The Repairer of Reputations

Against the far wall is an obsidian pyramid fifty feet high, made of two-foot obsidian cubes. Atop it is a throne, of human proportions. Slumped upon the throne, limbs dangling limply, is a figure clad in a thousand scraps of yellow cloth. The figure does not move or even breathe, and its face is fully covered by a mask, pallid as the belly of a dead fish rotting on a dead shore.

All hail the King In Yellow !!


KING IN YELLOW. (from the Encyclopedia Chthuliania)

1 The King In Yellow
Play written in the late 19th century by an unknown playwright (possibly named Castaigne) who later attempted suicide. When first published the government and churches denounced this work, and the city of Paris banned the play. Since then other editions have been published secretly. Though this play contains much contradiction and allegory, it is a work which leaves none who read it unchanged. During my research into this topic, I have found two different versions of this play, each having its own interpretation of the various elements mentioned in connection with the play. A synopsis of both is included herein, in the interest of completeness. Which one is truly correct is unknown; it could be that The King in Yellow is different for every reader.

A King of shreds and patches โ€“ Hamlet, William Sheakespeare, Hamlet III.4

(a) The two-act play begins on another world in the city of Yhtill, under the stars of Aldebaran and the Hyades. The majority of the play concerns the intrigue in the royal court between the claimants to the throne of Yhtill – the Queen, Alar, Thale, Uoht, Cassilda, Aldones, and Camilla. The royal party hears of a mysterious stranger who wears a Pallid Mask and the horrid Yellow Sign, who comes to Yhtill at about the same time as a strange ghostly city is sighted across the Lake of Hali. The royal family questions this figure, but they learn nothing. After revealing at a masked ball that he in fact wears no disguise, the queen tortures the wearer of the Pallid Mask, also known as the Phantom of Truth, to death. Following this affront, the dreaded mythical entity, the King in Yellow, appears in Yhtill as the mysterious city on the lake’s far side disappears. The King states that Yhtill has passed away, and now only the city of Carcosa lies on the shore of the lake. All characters except the King go insane, die, or must helplessly await their fate.

(b) In the second version, the setting is the city of Hastur, which has been at war with its neighbor Alar for countless years. The children of the ruling queen, Uoht, Thale, and Camilla, pester their mother Cassilda for the crown so that the dynasty might continue. but she puts off giving it away. Cassilda then learns that a figure wearing a Pallid Mask and bearing the Yellow Sign has been seen in Hastur. Counseled by the high priest Naotalba, she calls this stranger into the palace. The stranger, named Yhtill, offers the queen a chance to break free from the domination of the King in Yellow, who dwells in Carcosa across the Lake of Hali and rarely interferes in the works of humans. By wearing the Pallid Mask, he states, all those in the city may throw off the dread of the Yellow Sign as he has. Believing what the stranger has told her, the queen holds a masquerade at which each person wears the Pallid Mask. When the time comes to unmask, Yhtill reveals that he wears no mask, and has come from Alar to wreak vengeance upon Hastur’s people. This outrage does not go unnoticed by the King in Yellow, who comes to bear away Yhtill. The King promises Cassilda that he will allow the victor of the war between Hastur and Alar to rule the world, but on one condition: that the people of Hastur and their descendants wear their Pallid Masks for all time. As the play ends, the King In Yellow departs, leaving the courtiers in despair.

See Alar, Aldones, Camilla, Cassilda, Demhe, Hali, Hastur, Last King, Naotalba, Pallid Mask, Thale, Uoht, Yellow Sign, Yhtill. (“More Light”, Blish; “In the Court of the Dragon”, Chambers; “The Repairer of Reputations”, Chambers; “The Yellow Sign”, Chambers; “Tell Me, Have You Seen the Yellow Sign?”, Ross (C).

2 The King in Yellow
Also the name for an avatar of Hastur, or possibly Nyarlathotep, which is the title character of this play. The King usually takes the form of a gigantic human dressed in tattered yellow robes and sometimes wearing the Pallid Mask. See Brothers of the Yellow Sign, Hastur, Nyarlathotep (Being in the Yellow Mask), Sakkuth, Yellow Sign. (โ€œMore Light”, Blish; The Yellow Sign”, Chambers; “Tatterdemalion”, Love, Ross, and Watts (C).)

More Variant Scenery

Other than films its been a bit quiet here in Carcosa for several reasons. However, I did hint at the use of the offcuts from the coir mats that I carved up for fields. Waste not want not.

So I took the offcuts, chopped them up further still, and used them as reeds/long grass stands for some more CD scenery bases. I glued them straight on to the bases, so that the flock and static grass would cover up the thicker black rubber base.

Suitably based for BoB, AVBCW, Warhammer or eventually my AWI project. Again a cheap and easy variant on just green billiard board scenery and even just duo-tone bushes. It also makes it look more scrubbier than just simple green bushes.

I think they look good, and will be mixing in a lot of other scenery pieces with these offcuts for variety. As mentioned I have some more tree trunks, and these will be next on the list of things to do.

The new CDs were also used to finish off basing the trees I had bought. So in the space of 4 days I had finished off all of Byakhee Richard’s CDs, and have started in on the ones I got via Freecycle. I’ll be doing half a dozen (or more) of these bases for each of the genres I game, plus some for Byakhee JP. So that’d be about 30 bases in total. Hence the need for lots of free CDs !

Skip diving Byakhee Roo is round this evening to remove the last of the builders’ material from the garage which means I will finally be able to varnish all these items (I’ve got 20+ bases to seal).

Then I can reclaim my kitchen and get on with the AVBCW unit I have based coated – a bunch of shot gun toting nutters from Gripping Beast, Hasselfree and others.

Passport to Pimlico

One of the free DVDs I got was Passport to Pimlico, so with my interest in AVBCW I watched it last night. Its an old film from 1949, b/w filmed after WW2 and clearly taking advantage of the war torn London streets.

Its obviously dated, everyone is SHOUTING their lines, because that makes them more FUNNY, and everyone LAUGHS OUT LOUD and have loveable COCKNEY accents. But hey its still a good watch for a change from CGI car chases and the like.

What makes it relevant to AVBCW, is the disintegration of a nation, and its supply lines. The Pimlico/Burgundy enclave soon gets cut off from food, power and water. That;s something we haven’t really played out yet in AVBCW, so its very useful ffrom that point of view in stimulating some of the more basic issues AVBCW would throw up. However, as always, we tread a fine line between AVBCW’s practical aspects and its more gentler aspects.

Anyone for tea ?

Film: The Addams Family, and The Addams Family Values

For a treat I picked up The Addams Family on DVD yesterday. I had the sequel The Addams Family Values but had neglected the original. I was in the mood for some comedy. Dark and twisted as I like it.

At Xmas, my parents (!) had started to show me some kids cartoon film, I think it was How to train your dragon, or some such nauseating s***, and whined when I refused to watch it. It suddenly dawned on me they really don’t get the difference in our tastes, and this was most comedically exemplified by Wednesday’s (Addams) attitude in the films, especially when she is made to watch Disney films at the summer camp.

I particularly liked her attempt at smiling which frightened the other kids. Though telling the kitten to shut up whilst burying it was also amusing (not that I am advocating such behaviour….hmmm….).

Anyhow, these two films were fun to watch after such a long time and have lasted the test of time with laugh our loud moments and full of good quotes (sorry Byakhees, more one liner signatures to come).

Raul Julia’s almost eye popping performance was great. Christiopher Lloyd and Angelica Huston were great too. Lurch was a bit underused. Still all good macabre fun.

Freecycle – lots of CDs for scenery

As mentioned last week I ran out of the free CDs I use to base lots of scenery on. At the same tile, the builders had left behind a pile lof spare tiles in my garage which I needed to get rid of. Obviously no one is “selling” the free CDs you get on magazine fronts, nor would I be able to make a packet selling a small amount of tiles. The alternative taking them to the tip would be annoying.

So I finally joined up with Freecycle which enables people to freely give away or collect items locally, that have no real economic value, but are nonetheless are still useful and shouldn’t be consigned to land fill.

Today I picked up 16 CDs from Byakhee Rich, which would be used up by the end of this week.

Having advertised on Freecycle, I had an offer of c150 (!) CDs from a village down the road from me (5 minutes drive), so I picked them up – that’ll keep me going for some time. When I got home after this free bonanza, a hair cut and other chores, the postie delivered some more tree stumps from Urban Construct that I’d ordered. In my continuing fit of altruism and self interest I’d order more of them so I can dress 3 tables, and let Byakhee JP have some for his collection.

And the tiles were taken after a single day ! So my garage is almost emptied of left over building materials and I can get back to sorting it out and using it for spraying and painting all those CDs.

I recommend Freecycle for clearing out excess stuff, and getting the stuff you actually want. Plus its environmentally friendly. And it avoids skip diving, which Byakhee Roo practices. ๐Ÿ˜‰

AVBCW: The Hereford Campaign

Byakhee JP has posted some of the outcomes following our latest Big Game – The Second Battle of Foy.

The BUF (Cavalry under Captain Arrowsmith’s command pictured), along with their nominal allies the Royalists having been disarmed and ejected from Foy, there was a wider pattern of allegiences being forged.

JP has diligently updated the map of Hereford parishes and their allegiences, and added a narrative that helps take forward our Herefordian campaign.

This year, I hope to have some more games, where I actually get to play “my” faction, the Malvern Hills Conservators (MHC), so I’m eyeing those white patches of unaligned Parishes on the eastern fringes of Hereford. I can feel a good scrap or two being fought over them between Royalist, LDV, BUF and the MHC.

Threats of intervention from Shropshire have been made by several of those local factions, along with insinuations as to the nature of the relationship between Sir Gilbert, his wife, and his secretary (Miss Sweetmeat), and others.

The (newly installed) Suffragan Bishop of Ludlow rejoices at the return to the true faith of certain parishes in Herefordshire.

Contemplating the future from the highest tower of his HQ (and transport park) , Ludlow Castle, however, a burning question remains.
In fact, two.

Where now is the Archbishop of Herefordshire ?
Has the dastardly Foy regrown his moustache ?

The Suffragan Bishop is now regretting placing his intelligence gathering machine in the hands of a local farmer, Bartram Simpson, as not even considerable expenditure at the crowded bar of The Feathers Hotel over the last few weeks has resulted in any useful snippets of information. Bart would find answers on the back of postcard a real face – saver (and job – saver).

Meanwhile, Arthur Snout, the fiercely independent proprietor and editor of “The Ludlow Leader” is not interested in the answers to either of the above questions (although he will devote a column or two to the answers if they arise). True to the traditions of Fleet Street, the editor seeks to fill his (wartime reduced – save paper !) pages with an even more pressing regional (not to say, national) issue : what are the precise domestic arrangements of Sir Gilbert ? Was Miss Sweetmeat really an exotic dancer in the nightclubs of the Turks & Caicos Islands before taking her Pitmans Shorthand Course (by correspondence) and being engaged as Sir Gilbert’s secretary ? Has Lady Hill really taken refuge (together with considerable solace) in the arms of not one, but two, of Sir Gilbert’s gamekeepers (Messrs Mills & Boone) or is she party to an exotic continental arrangement with Sir Gilbert and Miss Sweetmeat herself ? Opinion at the bar of The Feathers Hotel is divided : the presses of “The Ludlow Leader” cannot long stand idle….

More is to be revealed…

In the face of this anarchy and aggression, the MHC under the tender stewardship of Sir George Moonbat and Sir Johnathan Porridge have decided to make a move to secure the western flanks of the Malvern from aggressive factions in Herefordshire and Shropshire in order to extend their warm and welcoming embrace of environmental concern and ensure stability and conservation of the natural order are continued.

Growing & Grooming

To break up the billard table flat green table and make it more realistic, the obvious scenery pieces are hills, hedges, roads, trees and bushes. Not many game tables I have observed, are dressed with fields of crops which is a surprise. They also provide cover, and provide opportunities for ambushes being set up. They can be generic, ranging from fantasy, through AVBCW, RCW and the AWI. Even Sci-Fi – remember the first episode of Star Trek Enterprise with a Klingon being chased through an American cornfield !

Simply corn field (or similar). A rubber backed coir floor mat. Obviously too large for most gaming tables so it needed carving up.

To carve it up I bought some cheap disposable set of knives as the rubber will quickly blunt the blades. Obviously use a metal rule, not plastic or wood, as any slip of the blade will simply gouge the ruler. All of the kit I used (mat, blades, ruler) were bought from a DIY store (B&Q in this case), which are a cornucopia for gamers and artists with a modicum of imagination. Its also a heck of a lot cheaper than going to specialist art and modelling shops sadly as you can buy in bulk.

Based on other examples I had seen, and in published media, I chooped it up into two squares. In order to make it useable, and so troops can move through the field, I then needed to carve out sections that can be removed to allow deployment of figures on to the table without hovering above this supposed crop !

So I cut out the overall edge of the field – about an inch wide to ensure “structural” integrity”. Its also worth pointing out that at this point you start to realise there’s a lot of mess being made. Always cut on a mat or thick newspaper to avoid damaging your table surface, and newspaper suitabley spread also means you can catch all the shed matting fibres which get everywhere.

And then carved up the internal area into four pieces. But found that you need to trim the internal sections as the matting “spreads” and you need a little bit of extra room. The offcuts are on the right. I kept the offcuts as these will be used for some new scenery pieces I have in mind…

One field I drybrushed, but it didn’t work out well, so would recommend you leave the matting as is.

The next step will be to mount the perimeter section onto some roofing felt that has been painted and highlighted – there’s pictures of this in various games with new crops sown so I’m not going to add another picture.

Yes, I groomed the thatch of the new building, using an old toothbrush (suitably soaked clean) and it looks better. I suspect I will be using the watered down PVA idea, coupled with a “haircut”.

Old toothbrushes also get used for a wide range of purposes, including when you are paint stripping old figures bought on evil-bay !

The Hastur Cycle

Following on from my recent book acquisitions of The King In Yellow related stories, I dug out my coy of The Hastur Cycle. This book is a collection of stories on Hastur, The King In Yellow and Carcosa. it’s part of a series of books Chaosium produce in support of their Call of Cthulhu RPG, mostly edited by Robert M Price.

Entitled as: Tales that Created and Defined Dread Hastur, the King in Yellow, Nighted Yuggoth, and Dire Carcosa”, it has the key stories written by H P Lovecraft, Ambrose Bierce, Robert W Chambers et al.

The material varies in style, with so many authors including Arthur Machen and Ramsey Campbell, and include poems and play scripts as well as more conventional short stories. Karl Wagner’s “The River of Night’s Dreaming” will make you think twice when watching The Rocky Horror Picture Show

Essential reading, and the stories are in a sequence charting the development of the mythology behind Hastur and the King In Yellow, and even includes James Blish’s stab (at insanity) at writing the play of The King In Yellow in “More Light”.

Do I now need to groom my buildings ?

The third 4 Ground building is complete and I think it needs some grooming (see below) ! Yes this is the Polish rural dwelling with the teddy bear fur thatched roof.

I ordered a second set of these buildings as I was so impressed, and having two 12×6 tables to dress in June thought I might need them. I also ordered a pot of their “bleached wood” paint as the one downside of these MDF kits is the joints, especially for the roofs are noticeable.

Now you see them….

Now you don’t !

The paint pot is standard Citadel/Foundry/Coat d’Arms style and fits in exactly with their pre painted kits.

All three buildings built, based and painted. In the background, are some more CD bases that I have done for Byakhee JP, so I don’t have to carry all my stuff round his place when he hosts – altruism and self interest merged into one. Sadly I have run out of cheap CDs to create more bases and have a load of ideas for new scenery I can create.

Next I should get back to painting some miniatures.

BoB: Here’s one someone else did earlier

The adrenaline rush that kept me going through the stress of the builders and then the AVBCW Big Game ran out back end of last week, so I took a break and apsent half my time asleep.

I did however get round to some trees. I bought ten of them from Jon & Diane Sutherland and they’d arrived the day before the Big Game, so didn’t feature. As I am planning a BoB Big Game in June, I thought I’d get them out.

They came on square bases that were quite thick and didn’t fit into my standard style of basing. So off they came. I’d said I was going to do this whilst buying them so I knew they’d been glue gunned onto the bases.

Using a foul mix of superglue and all purpose glue I stuck them onto my standard CD bases. Though BlackJack’s Satanic glare may have helped…

Before and after. Of course the first one I did was the smallest tree, as you can see.

Five of them done up. I have now run out of the free CDs and have asked the Byakhees for more. I estimate I have done over 100 such bases in the last couple of years.

Then I finished off the second 4 Ground building, the Ukrainian Rural building.