Lankhmar: Carnival of Swords
The Mouser said dryly, "I already smell dead fish, burnt fat, horse dung, tickly lint, Lankhmar sausage gone stale, cheap temple incense burnt by the ten-pound cake, rancid oil, moldy grain, slaves' barracks, embalmers' tanks crowded to the black brim, and the stink of a cathedral full of unwashed carters and trulls celebrating orgiastic rites-and now you tell me of a taint!"
-- Fritz Leiber,
"The Cloud of Hate"

The fantastic overlord stood a head higher than Fafhrd, but was thin as a starved Mingol. His black toga made him look like a funeral cypress. Perhaps to offset this dismal effect, he wore a wreath of small violet flowers around his blond head, the hair of which clustered in golden ringlets.
-- Fritz Leiber,
The Swords of Lankhmar

A swag-bellied little old man came strutting toward him with something of the bounce of youth. This one wore ragged finery touched up with gilt. Even his long gray moustache and goatee glittered with specks of gold above and below his dirty-toothed mouth. His heavily pouched eyes were rheumy and red all around, but dark and darting at center. Above them was a purple turban supporting in turn a gilt crown set with battered gems of rock crystal, poorly aping diamonds.
-- Fritz Leiber,
"The Snow Women"

...a monstrously fat woman in a dress of thick black wool that went to her redoubled chins and plump knuckles and hid her surely monstrous feet and ankles. Her black hair was dressed in a great round beehive stuck through and through with long black-headed pins, so that it was as if she bore a prickly planet on her head. This appeared to be the case, for her puffed face was weighted with a world of sullenness and hate. Her black eyes peered stern and all-distrustful from between folds of fat, while a sparse black moustache, like the ghost of a black centipede, crossed her upper lip. Around her vast belly, she wore a broad leather belt from which hung at intervals keys, thongs, chains, and whips.
-- Fritz Leiber,
The Swords of Lankhmar

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Lankhmar: Carnival of Swords will be held on Saturday, November 18, 2000. Details of the exact arrival and start times to be determined. The game will be held at the home of Ray and Cynthia in the LA mid-city area. (Precise address and directions will be sent to all players.)

If you have any questions at all about the game, please send them to the Gamemaster:

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House Rules

  1. No smoking in the house or any game areas.
  2. Do not open any closets, cabinets, drawers, refrigerators, or any rooms marked "Out of Game".
  3. All outdoor areas are considered part of the Plaza of Dark Delights, which means no sounds above a whisper. In deference to the neighbors, this is more than just a custom, it's an official house rule! Even when indoors, please refrain from howling or screaming.
  4. No real weapons (even blunted ones) allowed. Boffers, shinai, and other fake weapons are encouraged (see Costume Tips below), but are not to be drawn in the house.
  5. All players will be expected to clean up after the game. The house and grounds should look cleaner when we leave than it was when we arrived.
  6. In general, remember that this is someone's home and should be treated as such at all times. At the end of the evening Ray and Cynthis deserve our thanks for hosting this event, not our apologies.

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Costuming Tips

While I expect everyone to wear some type of costume to Lankhmar: Carnival of Swords, you've got your choice of three possible ways to dress:

Black Togas: Leiber states many times that the "black toga" is the traditional garb of Lankhmar. (He also mentions that it was probably once white, but given the usual condition of the city's streets and air quality....) However, in all the stories, only one character (the Overlord) is actually described as wearing such raiment. We can only guess that the black togas are actually only worn by lords and nobles on official business. Furthermore, based on Leiber's descriptions the Lankhmarite toga seems to have very little to do with the historical togas worn by Roman citizens but is much more like a robe of some sort. So basically, any long, black, draping garment will do to mark your character as a patriotic Lankhmarite.

Generic Fantasy Garb: Almost any clothing which you could imagine in a generic fantasy setting will work, including anything from medieval to Renaissance garb. If you want to go for hardcore swords and sorcery then the men should wear lots of leather and steel while the women should wear lots of skin, but really almost anything goes. Don't worry about matching any specific terrestrial period or region; feel free to mix turbans, furs, and other outre fashion accessories, basically anything that can be made with a pre-industrial technology.

Carnival Costumes: Remember, this isn't just any day in Lankhmar, it's Carnival, so many of the inhabitants themselves are probably wearing costumes. Think of the type of costumes you might see at Mardi Gras or Rio: bright colors, bizarre headdresses, beads, wigs, tassles, almost anything goes. The key words are exaggeration and excess. In keeping with the tone of Lankhmar, it would be especially appropriate to use grotesque or violent imagery in such costumes, a perfect chance to emphasize the contrast between the absurd and the macabre. Even if you don't want to make a full Carnival costume, I strongly suggest wearing or carrying a mask of some type, which you should be able to pick up at any good costume shop.

A few logistical costume reminders. You'll be wearing this costume for many hours, so get something you can wear comfortably! Given that you'll probably be moving between crowded rooms indoors and a November night outdoors, it would be sensible to include a coat, cloak, or other wrap which can easily be added or removed to suit the temperature. If your costume is going to take extra time to put on, be sure to show up early.

Also, don't forget to bring some sort of costume for your secondary character. While I don't expect anyone to bring two separate sets of clothing, it will really help if you have a hat or robe which you can toss on to indicate that you're a "new person". Reversible cloaks would be perfect! We won't have a separate room for costume storage, but will try to find an out-of-the way place where people can place extra costume pieces and other personal belongings.

Finally, a quick note on weapons. As part of the combat mechanics, players will be encouraged to "act out" their battles. Thus, if your character is supposed to have a sword, dagger, or other weapon, you should bring something to represent it which you can safely swing at another person. Please note the safety part! Even though players will not be actually trying to hit each other, we don't want anyone who gets accidentally whacked to be hurt. The gamemaster and refs will make final decisions on what weapons can be used in this manner, and if your weapon doesn't pass muster you'll just have to keep it sheathed and fight with an "air sword", which will also be the default combat-acting method in the house (see House Rules).

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