the soft horizon


Picture a stack of old Heavy Metal magazines, perhaps miraculously old ones you haven’t read before. The pages packed with work from Corben, Giraud, Bilal, Voss, Druillet, Bodé. That’s the soft horizon. It a stack of universes of possibilities, of crazy visuals, of stories. But unlike your stack of magazines, they are all linked: the Archer from the Airtight Garage of Jerry Cornelius might find himself in a bar by the seaside when the Plitch makes its appearance.

So the soft horizon or, if you like, the Soft Horizon, isn’t a game in itself. It’s an idea. But there are games! Each game is the best story in one of those magazines–the most startling visuals, the strangest setting, the best representation of the artist at that time, in that context. They might well be political because art is political, but mostly they will be weird and fun.

Mechanically, each game will use the same core mechanism, designed to elevate the weird, reward improvisation, and lighten the load on the ref. And deliver the soft horizon. Any character made in one game could wind up adventuring in another, perhaps raising the bar on “weird”. Your gorilla military lawyer from The King Machine might well find herself eventually digging for treasure with some Sand Dogs.

But the Soft Horizon will eventually also be a book itself — not a game, exactly, but a way to make more settings in this metaverse. So you aren’t limited to my games. They might make a starting place, but they certainly shouldn’t be the end or even the middle of your journeys. A handbook, really, to guide your own creative efforts, including not only advice and definition for the interface between system and setting, but also oracles galore to guide the process from the very beginning–the blank page–right up to game night. That’s the third (maybe) book in the series.

The second book is Sand Dogs. It’s coming out around the end of the year and you can read about it elsewhere. It’s Indiana Jones, it’s The Airtight Garage of Jerry Cornelius, and it’s Roadside Picnic. And some other stuff. Even The Immortal’s Fête is in there. Hell there are so many references that you can dig through it for easter eggs just as your characters will rob tombs for the garbage of the gods.

The first book is The King Machine and you can get it now. It’s a quiet game about an interrupted utopia. A perfect world suddenly imperfect. Oh, and you’re an intelligent primate. But not a human.

That’s not nearly the end though, or at least I hope it isn’t. I’ve been reaching out to other writers to potentially try their hand at their own game in this psychedelic metaverse. Some are nibbling. Some have bit. I don’t have titles nor deadlines yet, but I can see the idea is expanding.

And so the soft horizon grows, both inside and outside of the fiction. Join us. What could be more exciting than an old issue of Heavy Metal that you missed? That you get to read now for the very first time?

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