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Yo, you folks remember The Alleyman’s Tarot, that BONKERS-COOL deck I reviewed almost exactly a year ago, the one where every card was taken from another deck, and also there was a buncha cool swag including EXPANSION PACKS??? Well you just GUESS what the Publishing Goblin started working on IMMEDIATELY afterwards and has had cooking for an entire year; that’s right: A COMPLETELY ORIGINAL DIE-BASED DIVINATION SYSTEM. And your Ol’ Uncle Bageler was fir–well not first in line, I had some strawberry bread in the oven, but like fifth, sixth in line, tops. Twelfth, maybe. Or PERHAPS I started this joke before I went to look up what number backer I was and COULDN’T FIGURE IT OUT; we’ll never know exactly what happened, and we should stop asking.
What we can know for sure is that it’s NEW KICKSTARTER REWARD DAY BAYBEEEEEEEEEEEE
Mmmmmmm, that’s that good Alethiometer shit, I can’t wait to doodle those thither and yon as soon as I get a new job and have something to slack off during. Also can we talk about–like we’ve all had projects, right? We’ve all tackled something ambitious without being entirely sure we could pull it off, but I’m here to tell you that if I was planning something and hit a point where I needed to source form-fitted foams, I would simply remove one of my bones, leave it to throw off the authorities, and disappear to Zihuatanejo, to live free on abalone and clean sea breezes.
CLOFF, one side for Seasons and Aspects, one for Times and Possibilities, perhaps a secret third one for Plasma and Umami. I actually do readings for myself relatively rarely, and reading-cloths with interactive elements are not historically a tool I use in my process because the most variables I can handle at once are “the Sign of the Hamburger in the House of My Stomach”, but I must admit I’m intrigued by the challenge of using–as I believe is intended–both sides at once.
Oh shit! It a shoutin’ gobber! One more for the collection; here, let me save you a click:
(Since that article I have actually learned what the deal is with challenge coins thanks to this excellent episode of 99% Invisible, and indeed am now the proud owner of a 99PI coin of my very own, in case I ever 1. Meet Roman Mars and 2. Resist stealing his vocal cords and/or podcasting amulet long enough for him to call for a coin check)
I actually already have a yes/no coin that I keep in my everyday carry and use for low-stakes decision-making (the reader might actually be able to spot my review among the others), which is certainly a step up from the d20 I used to use; in this way, as in so many others, I am the opposite of Harvey Dent in Arkham Asylum: A Serious House On Serious Earth. This coin is admittedly more collectible, less replaceable, and more adorable than the one I have and so I am reluctant to use it, but if I remember my Publishing Goblin, they think everything looks better with some scuffs and dings, so maybe I’ll have to start a coin-carry rota, because that’s who I am now, apparently. Anyway this gobbo reminds me of the Christmas-caroling gremlin (one of the gremlins in Gremlins), and so I have now forced my wife to promise to bury me with it, place it in my ashes, or throw it into the ocean where Poseidon answered my taunts, as the case may be.
LEAPIN’ LORDS, it just wouldn’t be a PubGob joint without some like, almost annoyingly beautiful cards? Like what’s your fuckin’ deal, including both minimalist iconography and lush, beautiful design and color in the same project? Why I oughta! They’ll rue the day! Mama loves mambo! Etc.
A brief look at the accompanying text clarifies that there is one Lord (the term is used generically, with male, female, nonbinary, and other Lords) for every die, who presides and holds jurisdiction over that die’s sphere/realm/domain, and in fact the entire Goblin Dice system is explicitly described as “a conversation between The Lords”.
The PubGob has always not just approved, but actively encouraged the open alteration, removal, addition, or theft for use in another system of any element from their projects, and this is no different: Use the Lords in conjunction with the dice, use them as an independent oracle-deck, add them to your favorite existing tarot/oracle deck, whatever feels right and works for you and your practice. For my part–just because I’m set in my grumpy Tarot ways and don’t often cotton to alternative oracle decks–most of these Lords sound more like ideas I’m definitely stealing for my next D&D campaign, and on the off chance they ever read this, I beg the PG to take that as the compliment I intend*. Maybe part of that instinct is less cartomantic curmudgeonry and more a recognition of strong archetype and trope and archetrope; the entire Alleyman scheme has always been a narrative that PG spins (such as this podcast surrounding the character), and as a result some aspects of it feel a little more sanded in that specific grain. The traditional Major Arcana are strong, iconic concepts, but they’re also familiar and worn-smooth and have the mystique of the things we hear about our entire lives but might not understand; the Lords are clearly and vibrantly the same kind of shape, they’re just ones we haven’t met before, strange and enticing and an entirely different flavor of mysterious.
Through the DARK AND ANCIENT ART OF WIFOMANCY, I randomly pulled three to take a closer look at:
- The Bearer Of Boons:
“When the Bearer of Balloons arrives in a reading, it speaks to a gift of goodness. A friendly hand, a shoulder to cry on, that extra money you needed. Kindness. As a card, the Bearer is just a positive omen of good things coming. But most often at its simplest, it is merely a gift. In this way, it is simple and clear. It is something hopeful, good, needed, or wanted. You will receive it, though the circumstances of its giving, or reception, is uncertain, unclear, perhaps on important. At least to the card.“
- They Who Hunger:
“When They Who Hunger comes up in a reading, they bring a seed of their insatiable hunger with them.
This driving hunger wants food, money, fame love, collections, faith, hate drugs, ideas, fear, action, chance, risk, life. It wants, and that is the whole of its being. This senseless need for more is the entirety of what it is, imparted in their card. You must slow down. You must ask yourself why. You are not this grasping impossibility, you are a person with history and love and belief. Parse your needs, your wants. What. do they really say?”
- My personal favorite of the whole deck, actually, The Nameless Mariner:
“When the Nameless Mariner comes up in a reading, they carry with them an innate tie, or love, of their lives with them. For the Mariner, it is the sea, but for the querent, it may be what they mire themselves in. There is a sense of adventure, perhaps, even travel, tied to the Mariner, but of course, there is also an innate tie to the waters of the world.
There is an opportunity, chance, and plenty of good brain chemicals to be found in the world by chasing your dream. It is not selfish, it is not foolish, it is merely the path we take. It is a call to action to go out to the act, to go places you haven’t been, to take that trip you put off, to dive headfirst into that project you are uncertain you should take on.
It may seem like you need to be fearless, but that’s not true. The Mariner them self has never been fearless. There’s always the awareness of the ocean can turn. Still, it’s a risk worth taking.“
*Generally it’s good form to ask someone before using their work in your own creative endeavor, but honest thievery and the magpie’s hoarding instinct are traits circled in rainbow sparkle-pen/blood/sparkleblood on the Alleyman’s character-sheet; I feel safe in saying they’d be insulted if I didn’t
Mmmmm, that’s-a nice-a set of bones. Each of them has a name and six sides bound to a concept or thematic circle; I once again called upon THE CUTEST MYSTERIOUS ORACLE WHO’S TRYING TO BROWSE PETS AT THE SHELTER SO SHE CAN PRAY FOR THEM, and she randomly chose these:
- The Alley Die (Outer Ring 6 O’Clock):
-Featuring the Alley, Community, Performance, Scavenge, Strays, and Truth faces.
-Presided over by The Alleyman.
-From the text:
“The Alley Die should be used in readings where you are looking for answers you aren’t sure on. It should be used for readings where you feel something is being forgotten, left behind, or ignored. As such, it fits. inmost readings, and should often be in the hand of conscientious readers who like to see what’s left at the fringe of a reading.“
- The Summer Die (Inner Ring 6 O’Clock Position):
-Featuring the Star, Gain, Sun, Radiance, Excess, and Fist faces.
-Presided over by The Summer Crone.
-From the text:
“The Summer Die has a use in all readings, but especially those asking about active situations. summer lives in the moment, and has a very hard time looking back on past situations or entirely into hypotheticals unless they are active memories of some kind.“
- The Chaos Die (Center, Maroon)
-Featuring the Grimoire, Mirrored Raven, Joker, Broken Time, Dice, Shadow, Burning Bridge, Unknowable, Flip, Dumpster Fire, Collision, and Entropy faces.
-Presided over by The Trickster.
-From the text:
“The Chaos Die is the only die in the set with more than 6 faces. It brings chaos, and it brings it in spades. Chaos can be gimmicky, silly, tacky. It can do simple things like re-roll a die, or move things around. It can also just proclaim grand-reaching statements, such as the nearest die shouldn’t be touched or looked at.
The Chaos Die should only be included in readings when you desire them to be strange, changed, altered. Know that if you include this die, you will irrevocably alter the reading in some strange way.
This being said, sometimes the most impossible is the most true.“
AND THERE YOU HAVE IT FRIENDS, WELL-WISHERS, AND ENEMIES WHOSE GRUDGING RESPECT I HAVE EARNED.
DO NOT THINK for a moment that, having accomplished this frankly monumental feat (trust me, I read the Kickstarter updates, the dice alone were a nightmare) the Publishing Goblin is content to rest upon their laurels; since I started this article they’ve launched their newest project, The Alleyway Oracles, already surpassing The Alleyman Tarot’s funding, which I will remind you was the single highest-funded tarot deck in Kickstarter’s history until now. This won’t be the last time we hear from them, and you wanna get in on this now to see what horrible, hilarious thing comes next, but rest assured your Old Uncle Bageler will be in line the second this blueberry-oat crumble comes out of the oven, and you’ll hear all about it from me no matter what.
Also, Jack says hi!