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 Idea-A-Day Challenge!, Dump your mind burdens here
bird
 Posted: Apr 28 2016, 08:11 AM
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i was yelling about this to mellery already but i am going to post it here to try and congeal my thoughts on it!

here goes: a sort of archipelago/canal city, a city of bridges - like we're talking enormous, tall, teetering grandiose structures built up out of the water, and hundreds of thousands of lights everywhere. wealthy merchant lords and ladies scrabble for control through spying, political maneuvering and the occasional assassination. airships moored high overhead.

one of the things though in this society is that like, clothing is actually really important - not only is it meant to look good, but fashion also functions as a coded method of communication. it is a way of asserting political status, of communicating subtle messages to one's co-conspirators or foes, or declaring conflicts or allegiances or insults. like a very sophisticated 'language of flowers' thing where choice of fabric, cut, embroidery, etc is all deeply symbolic and executed with serious intent ... but still leaves some plausible deniability for the wearer. mostly i like the idea of nobles of picking an outfit on the basis of "i want something that says... the duke of cavetta, that traitorous swine, dies at midnight tonight in the rose garden". also hats, hats are definitely a thing.

and of course all this takes serious work and weeks of preparation (at least) and a serious staff. so seamstresses and tailors function in noble households not only as workers but also as deeply trusted confidantes, political advisors, PR people, and spies. a good seamstress not only sews but is also keenly aware of all the political intrigue and machinations in the city, and is clever, fiercely loyal, and listens. and because this is a deeply stratified society, these seamstresses come from a guild which also probably has some sort of religious aspect - like a sworn sisters type of deal, and they're probably street urchins or kids given to the order by their parents, or whatever.

and of course because of the whole status as confidantes thing, there's a lot of cutting out of tongues, or a whole lot worse, and chances are that nobles probably pick illiterate kids, or deaf or blind kids, and so on. but the seamstresses have their own way of communicating between themselves too, and in the enormous covered markets where they go to buy fancy silks they're passing wefts of fabric between themselves that have their own secret messages -- a note sewn into a seam, or a stray stitch, or a kind of sewn braille.

and maybe two seamstresses vow revenge on their masters and literally pull strings (i'm sorry i couldn't resist) behind the scenes to bring the whole social order toppling down and aid a growing revolution. or it's a seamstress and a bodyguard conspiring either with or against each other, or a seamstress and a merchant's daughter who came into some wealth and has a serious chip on her shoulder or ...??? my original idea had a salty old airship captain conspiring with her lover, a nouveau riche merchant daughter, but now i'm way more enamoured with this guild of seamstress-spies.

in any case: lots of politics, intrigue, romance, and stabbing probably. gorgeous, ridiculously lush (and also ridiculous) clothes. espionage. encryption and ciphers. secrets and blackmail and illicit love affairs. whispered meetings in the dead of night in the undercity, or in the high vaulted observatory towers. possibly some fantasy elements too, like some of the elder sisters in the order know a kind of hedge-magic, or bird-headed people.

(i think all of this is probably at least partially inspired by the fact that the only reason i pay attention to game of thrones any more is the costume design)

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bird
 Posted: Apr 28 2016, 01:44 PM
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another idea for today because i'm on a roll: a kind of inception meets fell (the comic) meets memento thing? with like dashes of china mieville and classic chandler sprinkled liberally throughout.

here's the pitch: surreal dream-noir about memory and forgetting.

a detective in a labyrinthine dream-city populated by phantasmagoric creatures where it's always night attempts to figure out what happened to their memories of their waking life. because as far as they know, they've always been sleuthin', and all they have is this increasingly convoluted case and rare glimpses of how they got there. and because it seems like the only way you leave the city is if you die or if you remember.

and then along comes your classic femme fatale, and she claims to remember everything about you.




i kinda feel like this would be coolest as a comic or something because you could have whole chunks of the city changing and even fuck around with, idk, changing the actual structure of the panels and wonky stuff like that ... but stuff like that is always hit or miss.

but it would be cool to use this weird monstrous infinite, ever-changing city as a way to do a send-up or a homage to set-pieces of the genre and make them strange and unfamiliar and alien. because you know how there's that whole thing in noir where the city is a character in and of itself? it'd be like that but on steroids. the city is a character and the city never sleeps, and she is vast and unknowable and terrifying and you will never ever leave. not if she has anything to say about it.

also i feel like it'd be kind a cheap reveal to have it end on IT WAS ALL A DREAM ALL ALONG or THEY WERE IN A COMA THE WHOLE TIME or whatever although it might be hinted at throughout?? maybe it's an afterlife?? i don't know. i hate that shit. i just want to write tentacle-headed bartenders and murky hotels and have it make sense that the streets are always hosed down, and that, how weird is this, someone always seems to be playing saxophone music at the crime scene.
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bird
 Posted: May 1 2016, 03:13 PM
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standard issue medieval fantasy setting (i was playing skyrim yesterday) but we follow a troupe of minstrels making their way through the world! and as they're traveling around they are affected by the aftermath of a questing hero's heroic decisions. so they'll come to a village and the innkeeper has raised her rates, because the last guy who came through here stole a bunch of food from the pantry and went through his stuff. the various NPCs are reluctant to give information because every passing shmuck keeps asking them the same dumb phrases. people are scared to bury their bodies in the family crypts because assholes keep looting them. the economy is all skewed too: all the merchants only have looted shitty armour and weapons to trade and people who sell furniture or clothes can't really make a buck. environmental damage from runoff of all the mana potions that everybody in the town crafts because that's the new useful industry, while farmers struggle to make ends meet. hell, maybe there's a small town where the kids use iron daggers and old armour as toys because there's just so much weaponry coming into the town all the time, and that becomes a real social problem. talented young people stop wanting to be community leaders and merchants and scholars and farmers any more and start wandering off into the woods in droves to slay, like, whatever, and small towns with aging demographics begin to suffer for it.

so maybe the minstrels get to a town and they need costumes to do a show but all they can get is like, armour looted from old musty undead or whatever. lots of single moms, because questing douchebags keep impregnating local women and then running out on them to go slay dragons.

and possibly questing heroes mistake either the minstrels or some local kids for bandits (because they're wearing looted armour) and attack them, or the heroes eat all their food and steal one of their horses, or someone's priceless trinket because it's for a quest. and the troupe of minstrels is sitting in the woods with nothing to eat like ... what a fucking dick.

so maybe one of the minstrels goes on an adventure of their own to find this asshole to avenge their dead buddy, or to steal their grandmother's amulet back (which gets pawned off at the next village to buy a healing potion), and chases this guy from village to village around the big ol' map as the hero (or various heroes) murders his way towards his Destiny. meanwhile this minstrel is just making it their personal mission to just be a royal pain in the ass. not killing anyone, technically but manipulating situations through trickery to make things annoying and difficult for the hero. alerting the guards every time the hero's trying to sneak around and break into someone's house. warning them to look out for pick-pockets! snitching every time he steals a horse. putting laxative herbs in his mead. warning the locals about him. etc.

eventually the minstrel probably decides to give it up, because it's unhealthy to obsess over someone so much and they want to settle down, have kids, do normal things. but all these fucking heroes keep ruining that, and eventually events conspire that the minstrel either becomes a leader -- because the Corrupt Old Rulers have created a power vacuum and the economy's fucked and the people Need a Hero -- and ends up having to like, knight the Hero for his great quest accomplishments. that or the minstrel becomes Public Enemy #1, because all the good arch-nemeses have been slain, and the minstrel's like ... yeah, okay, fine, FINE, i'll get some boss-ass evil robes from the boss-ass evil robe store, whatever. just go stand over here cackling maniacally about some garbage plan. it's fine. not like i wanted to do anything else with my life. it's fine. it's fine.

anyway idk where i'm going with this but it's probably nowhere that oglaf or order of the stick hasn't been. i leave you with this playthrough of felix the monk, the hero fantasy universes deserve.
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bird
 Posted: May 15 2016, 09:56 AM
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all i seem to have are video game-like ideas lately (probably because i've been gaming way too much) but here's this one which is based on a dream i had + this war of mine + the little prince:

you're a kid in a sacked city (medieval or more modern urban, whichever). you might have some combat capabilities but really you're pretty weak and if you try to punch everything to death you're probably going to die.

you don't really know what's going on but you're fed bits and pieces of information from scraps of newspapers, from diaries and letters found in bombed-out houses, from overheard conversations between soldiers or medical volunteers or whatever else. you might have some aspect of amnesia, but you might also just be a kid: the point is you really don't know what's going on and everyone and everything around you is incredibly unreliable

meanwhile you have to worry about access to clean water, finding food, making tentative alliances with other scavengers, avoiding or curing diseases and injuries. if you punch something you might break your knuckles, and that'll affect you; if you leave a wound untreated too long, or sleep in a place that's really cold and doesn't have clean water, you might get sick.

on a survival run to the other side of town you find a flower - let's make it a rose, for maximum le petit prince steez, but in my head it was a dandelion or some other weed. you pick it because it's pretty and it's there and you've never seen anything like it and after you pick it, it starts talking to you. i'm not sure if it's a friend or a guide or a delusion or what; if it's nice or if it's malevolent - i think it's at least slightly malevolent because it always bothered me when inanimate objects in games talk and everyone implicitly trusts the. anyway. mostly i have this mental image of a kid wandering around the wreckage of this city looking for a vase to put this flower in -- carrying it around in a discarded helmet filled with rainwater

(and if it's malevolent, maybe the flower has its own commentary to offer about things (like the heart in dishonored?) - secrets of places, interesting places to scavenge, "you can't trust ____" where ____ is say the leader of a small band of scavengers that has so far been pretty good to you, or a doctor who bandaged up your broken hands. possibly the flower leads you to good loot for a while, and then you try to take some of your scavenger buddies with you to help you, and they all somehow end up dead?

oooor the flower is a Spirit of Revenge type deal and sort of manipulates you into helping take out the occupying forces regardless of how you, the kid, feel about the actual ethics of what you're doing?

idk where i'm going with this though the game probably ends with the kid planting the creepy rose back where it came from)



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mellery
 Posted: Oct 24 2016, 04:58 AM
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this probably isn't true, but it's what it feels like, and that's a sort of truth. what it feels like is if his parents, unable to grow a child out of themselves, chose to sculpt mud into an immitation of flesh, and incubate the little stolen thing until it had lungs and eyes and nails, and no one could know better except the earth. when he steps on the grass it sticks to him hard enough that the blades snap off when he walks. rocks held in palm leave heavy marks that take a day to fade. flowers under his window won't stop growing even when they sag with the weight of it.

the worst happened when he was allowed one, two, (three?) cups of cider when his cousin became an adult, and he fell asleep outside in the warm. it can't have been long he lay with his hand off the picnic blanket as no one had attempted to move him inside, and he only woke up when he felt the field inching inside him.

(dude just sucks the whole earth up inside his skin and gets all furry excep t it's grass not hair )

also...a woman grows an exoskeleton to survive in a harsh climate and it's so thick and heavy she starts feeling alienated from her body, and feelings she had before about wanting to be small and protected get stronger as she keeps living like this. she's tough but she doesn't want to be. she's lonely but she doesn't want to be around people like this. she finds it difficult to feel her hands.
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mellery
 Posted: Oct 25 2016, 09:51 AM
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something is lacking a skin, and thus the ability to physically interact with the world. it lives like this for a long time before it realises there are only two meaningful options open to it; continue, or change. choosing the latter, it builds itself a skin. the materials are inorganic, abandoned things. plastic bags, elastic, a disposable poncho from a theme park that has to be ripped at the throat and arms to fit, goalie gloves with holes. it has built itself a shell from rubbish, and it's so illfitting it feels awful to wear.

it asks itself why it chose to perform its task this way (using so little, with a result that repulses itself and others), when there were other choices. even over the course of a single day it can see that there are many people who use bodies that are fleshful and strong without seeming to have an internal drive - nothing as animated as the thing that watches it. there are others still who have obviously stolen their flesh because they are always watching behind themselves and never ahead; uneasy, wicked things. there are even some whole discarded skins on the ground and it doesn't take much to find them. they are mostly by bodies of water and never rot or catch infection. taking the skin of something alive but not living, or something already stolen, or something abandoned - it realises it has known these were options from the start. there must have been a part of it that rejected them. it has lived this way for so long, but it is only then that the thing wonders what it used to be and how it got there.
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mellery
 Posted: Oct 26 2016, 02:37 PM
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there is a sort of spirit in everything, from cities to food dropped unknowingly. the biggest things in the world have spirits too; land, sky and water. land has dominated for a long time, possessing both the most space and the most abundant and powerful species of animal. things change easily though, and water takes an opportunity for advantage one day. ocean levels rise, rain floods, people change from the inside. they do not die but instead become wholly creatures of water, only now realising how little control over their fate they have. some small islands are spared.

-

possession by fire...hiccupping up smoke, dry hot smouldering cheeks when overly tired or embarassed, catching glimpses of lights moving along veins, hot hands; bad for comforting but good for massages.
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mellery
 Posted: Oct 27 2016, 09:59 AM
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two people individually experience terrible heartbreak and, after a chance meeting where they unload on each other, decide to do something about it. It's not just enough to forget or heal; they have to stop this from happening again. Cue some sort of quest to destroy attachment to things/gain complete self sufficiency...and right at the end they realise they now have feelings for one another. one goes through with it, the other doesnt.
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mellery
 Posted: Oct 28 2016, 02:44 PM
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someone gets in trouble one day and hides out in the underground. they're young, scared, alone, they know they'll get caught but they keep walking further in anyway. eventually they reach a point where they start hearing the sound of trains again and then find an entrance. they're confused but assume they were turned around at some point. to get their bearings right they climb out and take a look at the sky.

it's...different, but similar too. they feel nauseous just being there, like on a roller-coaster. eventually they realise they're in a mirror image of their city, and in this version no one knows them. they can escape their troubles by moving between the two worlds strategically. but other people know this trick too.

--

sentient cities where humans function like those little birds or fish that clean out bigger animals bodies for protection.
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mellery
 Posted: Oct 29 2016, 11:28 AM
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an intelligent infection of sorts enters the blood of a family. at first it does nothing - it's just passed down between family members, inactive and learning. eventually it has enough information on the human body to act. without anyone noticing, it starts to take over their minds. by passing its consciousness down generations it becomes very long-lived and comfortable - but the energy required to control so many bodies at once requires a high-protein food-source...dun dun!

basically a vampire story featuring a hive-mind instead of individuals.
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