Monday, January 23, 2017


Remember back when I said I was working on a new novel-length project? Well, I've been a bit stalled out this week. Call it a crisis of confidence: the more trouble I have writing a chapter or section, the more faith I lose in myself, and the more faith I lose in myself, the more trouble I have writing that chapter or section or any other chapter or section. I've got myself in what the Romans called a circulus vitiosus (lit. "shit sandwich").

While wasting some time and avoiding writing earlier tonight, I revisited those old Moby Dick Magic: the Gathering cards I produced with Magic Set Editor a few years ago under similar circumstances. Man, most of them were really poorly designed. I'm zero for a billion tonight.

So I rethought some of them so as to keep wasting time and deferring What Is To Be Done. I hope they will waste some of your time, too.

The imaginary Moby Dick expansion needed an imaginary new mechanic: and here it is! Monomaniac! It is flavorful and interesting (and imaginary) if I do say so myself.

I haven't played much Magic in the last year or so, but I've been in enough games to have my shit wrecked by Ulamog more than once. I'd have loved to have a guy like Ishmael in my corner then, even if it would have meant playing with my two least favorite colors. (I'm even less a fan of Eldrazi than I am of white and/or blue.)

Next we have the OG of monomania. Ahab is a larger-than-life, hypnotic, and really kind of pretty intense dude. In the imaginary Modern scene, people are sideboarding Moby-Dick just to wreck monoblack's shit.

This fellow is based on a minor character from The Confidence-Man. The image is actually an illustration of Mr. Smallweed, a similarly fragile little asshole from Charles Dickens' Bleak House (which I'm 98% certain Melville read before writing The Confidence-Man). And yes, there's a visible watermark. I don't care.

Maurice Sendak (famed author of Where the Wild Things Are) produced a rare illustrated version of Pierre; or, the Ambiguities, which, in case you've never heard me go on and on about it, was pretty much Neon Genesis Evangelion as a nineteenth-century American novel (seriously!). I cropped the image so you can't see Pierre's visible penis (again, seriously!).

And here's Pierre at the end of the novel, where he's too broken and angry at the world to flaunt his manhood.

Speaking of eponymous characters from Melville's post-Moby career...

Hmm. It's convoluted enough, sure...but I think the card would be more faithful to the novel if its text was incomplete by design and effectively made no sense.

And just for fun...

I'd have liked to use a quote from Moby Dick's Old Fleece himself, but that would be a step and a half into Problematic territory.

I always loved the chapter where Ahab's hat gets snatched. Melville doesn't make clear what species of seabird he intends his "red-billed savage sea-hawk" to represent. It's almost certainly not a magnificent frigatebird (pictured), but what the hell, she looks cool.

okay now what


  1. Ahab's ability to steal creatures for a turn is a staple red ability but it works well because Ahab is (in my opinion) quite red, in addition to black. In fact, I'd cost him 2BBRR.

    As for Monomaniac, the templating would go something like: Monomaniac--As long as you have exactly one card in hand, ~ has "..."

    1. Yeah, you're probably right. (In fact, Ahab's erudition—"Ahab's been in colleges, as well as 'mong the cannibals"—probably gives him a splash of blue, too.) I just want Ahab to be monoblack because I'm a biased misanthrope who's still only running and continuously torquing his Sheoldred EDH deck. (It is 99% compleat. I'd really like to get my mitts on an Urborg, Tomb of Yawgmoth someday, though.)

      Hmmm. What characteristically monoblack tricks could Ahab perform, I wonder? Paying life to draw cards would work against Monomaniac, so that's out. Ooh. What about paying life to gain control of creatures/planeswalkers permanently? (Oh hard! That to fire others, the match itself must needs be wasting!)

      Or, heck. Menace + when he attacks, defending player sacrifices a creature and/or discards a card or something.

      And yes! Yes! THAT IS PRECISELY HOW IT SHOULD BE WORDED. I might even have to edit and repost the cards.

    2. I think if I were to cardify Ahab I'd grab the "implacable hunter" angle and try to fit in a way to reflect his mutual destruction with Moby Dick. Something like:

      BB, T: Ahab deals 1 damage to target creature and that creature deals X damage to Ahab where X is that creature's power.
      At the beginning of each end step if a creature dealt damage by Ahab this turn died, put a +1/+1 counter on Ahab.