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[Oct. 19th, 2005|09:42 am]
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The door at the end of the hallway past the hall of dog armor was chained and had a padlock in surprisingly good condition on it. Determined to explore it today, I had brought my lockpicks.

Lockpicking is one of those glamorous skills that you think would be really handy for an explorer, and turns out not to be. Surprisingly few cultures use conventional locks, and on the off chance you’re looking for a lost colony or expedition from one of them, generally by the time you find the lock, it’s been rusted or gummed up for so long there’s nothing you can do with it. The few times that one may have a working lock, it’s usually faster and more efficient to simply apply the proper tool (i.e. Heinrich.)

If one is looking to be an explorer, therefore, I suggest one take up darning. One may or may not ever encounter a lock in the darkest wilds, but it’s a given that one’s clothes will be more hole than cloth by the end of an expedition.

At any rate, finding my lockpicks in the jumble of our no-longer-organized camp was the hardest part. It was a very large lock with only two tumblers, and even as unskilled as I am, it didn’t take very long to pick. There was even a handy gear embedded sideways in the floor that made a convenient seat. I unwrapped the chain and pushed the door open with a creak.

The room revealed was a small cube about ten feet on a side, floored with flagstones (the walls were still sand-colored concrete) with a square stand in the middle of the room. On the stand was a gong, and hanging next to it, a mallet.

The gong was beaten copper, the only design a simple, tightly wound spiral, but as if to make up for this restraint, the metalsmith had gone completely overboard with the mallet, and not in a good way. The head was a kneeling, nude woman, mostly human but with the flayed, pop-eyed skull of some gnawing rodent. Enormous chisel-like buck-teeth made up one end, and squared off buttocks the other. Each of the six breasts that the artist had seen fit to bestow on this figure extended off the head of the mallet, and wrapped down the ebony haft in a tight spiral, holding it in place, and ending in an ornate fringe of nipples at the end cap. Perhaps feeling that his creation had not gone quite far enough, the artist had worked each nipple into the likeness of a screaming chisel-toothed mouth, except for one that was a tiny, ornate chrysanthemum.

“Yow,” I said.

Heinrich didn’t have to say anything. I could feel his eyebrows go up from across the room.

Bolted to the front of the platform was a metal plaque with carefully inscribed letters:

PLEASE DO NOT STRIKE GONG
While we fully understand that you are curious as to what
happens when the gong is struck, we must strongly advise
against it. The results are most unpleasant and dramatically
fatal. Human nature being what it is, we realize that this
warning may not stop you, and may in fact only drive you
to strike it, but since we are unable to destroy the gong,
and the lock was evidentally insufficient to keep you out,
we can only hope that you will take our advice. There are
neither riches nor knowledge here, but only an ugly death.
Respectfully,
The Monks of Perdition


Under this plaque was another, much smaller and more discreet one that said simply:

In Memory of Brother Wu


Heinrich and I read this plaque through. I made a careful rubbing of it. Then we left the room and re-locked the door behind us.

Our readers may be disappointed at this lack of adventurous spirit on our part, and perhaps rightly so, but one doesn’t get to be an old adventurer without learning when to leave well enough alone.
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Comments:
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[User Picture]From: fatfred
2005-10-19 01:21 pm (UTC)

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<---- DO NOT PULL THE LEVER!
Oh Ya!
[User Picture]From: reyfox
2005-10-20 05:24 am (UTC)

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"Can't 'elp it. I'm a born 'leever-pooler'."
-Ringo Starr, Yellow Submarine
[User Picture]From: amethyst42
2005-10-19 01:23 pm (UTC)

Eland is a wise antelope

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No matter how stupidly daring I am some times, I'd still leave that gong alone.

Noticed a small typo: "was chained and had a padlock in surprisingly ____ condition on it." Missing an adjective there. :)
[User Picture]From: gearworld
2005-10-19 01:26 pm (UTC)

Re: Eland is a wise antelope

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The librarian thanks you and has beaten the acolyte responsible.
[User Picture]From: sarsalot
2005-10-19 01:40 pm (UTC)

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Shades of The Magician's Nephew...
[User Picture]From: shiftingpath
2005-10-19 02:59 pm (UTC)

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Eland has conquered where Digory failed!
[User Picture]From: the_s_guy
2005-10-19 01:46 pm (UTC)

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"Heinrich, tell Timmy I have a job for him."
[User Picture]From: maggiedacatt
2005-10-19 04:44 pm (UTC)

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Hahahahaha
(no subject) - (Anonymous) Expand
[User Picture]From: wechsler
2005-10-19 01:53 pm (UTC)

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The WIPP design document that was around a few years back tried incredibly hard to overcome the "explore anyway" inclination. Unfortunately that document/site no longer seems to be available; however I managed to locate this fragment:

This place is not a place of honor. No highly esteemed deed is commemorated here. Nothing of value is here. This place is a message and part of a system of messages. Pay attention to it! Sending this message was important to us. We considered ourselves to be a powerful culture.
[User Picture]From: wechsler
2005-10-19 02:07 pm (UTC)

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(no subject) - (Anonymous) Expand
[User Picture]From: aveether
2005-10-19 01:58 pm (UTC)

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Is it overly analytical of me to suggest that the monks may have undermined their stated purpose somewhat by providing a handy (if grotesque) hammer alongside their sequestered gong?

It's almost as if they want someone to ignore the warning...
[User Picture]From: wechsler
2005-10-19 02:08 pm (UTC)

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I think we can assume the monks didn't provide the hammer and that - like the gong - it proved to be immpossible to remove, and indestructible.
(no subject) - (Anonymous) Expand
[User Picture]From: shewhomust
2005-10-19 01:59 pm (UTC)

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Classic episode. Thank you.
[User Picture]From: sofish_sasha
2005-10-19 02:31 pm (UTC)

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Musn't... Strike... The Gong... Musn't... Don't...

GONNGGGGGGGGGG...!





Oh shit.
[User Picture]From: gingerspark
2005-10-19 03:51 pm (UTC)

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now you've gone and done it!!!





.........................................................Run!
[User Picture]From: gre7g
2005-10-19 02:33 pm (UTC)

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We will never know, unless someone makes Gearworld into a movie* of course, precisely what manner of death awaits the one who strikes the gong, but I can envision it has something to do with the dog armor coming back to life. Don'cha think?

* Movies never pass up the opportunity for that sort of thing, whether it contradicts the book or not.
[User Picture]From: cuprohastes
2005-10-19 05:35 pm (UTC)

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Nah. The gong's just not very well made and tends to topple over and squish people who gong it.
[User Picture]From: trede
2005-10-19 02:35 pm (UTC)

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I want to hit the gong!
[User Picture]From: ursulav
2005-10-19 02:36 pm (UTC)

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Don't...bogart the gong...duuuuude...
[User Picture]From: catswithwings
2005-10-19 02:36 pm (UTC)

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I wouldn't ring the gong because, one it obviously says not to ring it. And two, the mallet is just way to icky to touch. :P
[User Picture]From: tuftears
2005-10-19 09:31 pm (UTC)

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Egads. That is such the cute user icon!
[User Picture]From: ankewehner
2005-10-19 02:46 pm (UTC)

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Lockpicking is one of those glamorous skills that you think would be really handy for an explorer...
Is that irony, or id Eland just weird?

I know a rather famous RPG scenario that has a gong in a lost city... Hitting it draws the attention of a whole city of Dark Elves. From what I've heard, most parties who went through that did hit the gong.

I've got a general question: Ursula, what do you feel about people drawing Gearworld fanart?
[User Picture]From: catswithwings
2005-10-19 02:53 pm (UTC)

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I believe she's said before that it's alright.
(Deleted comment)
[User Picture]From: aintesduck
2005-10-19 03:47 pm (UTC)

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PLEASE DO NOT STRIKE GONG

Arrrrrgh.... Must... Strike... Gong... MUST... STRIKE... GONG!!!!!!!
[User Picture]From: elemnar
2005-10-19 04:08 pm (UTC)

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I'd be tempted to throw something at the gong, and then run. :P
[User Picture]From: dulcinbradbury
2005-10-19 04:48 pm (UTC)

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I'm glad I'm not the only one who would be tempted to do that...
[User Picture]From: hellmutt
2005-10-19 04:27 pm (UTC)

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I wouldn't even be tempted to strike the gong. Maybe I'm weird.
(Deleted comment)
[User Picture]From: mearn4d10
2005-10-19 04:44 pm (UTC)

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I'll take $5 on that
(no subject) - (Anonymous) Expand
(Deleted comment)
[User Picture]From: london
2005-10-19 05:56 pm (UTC)

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lol at least he got to reading the warning. i have role played with people that would have either, run straight up to the gong and struck a note on it, or would have read and struck anyway not because they thought it was a good idea (which they most likely didnt) but mostly to be a nuisanse.
[User Picture]From: zamiel
2005-10-19 06:39 pm (UTC)

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Um, can we get art of the mallet? Because, dayum, I so want that mallet. :P
[User Picture]From: ursulav
2005-10-19 07:37 pm (UTC)

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Pottery Barn just doesn't cut it for some things...
[User Picture]From: timtylor
2005-10-19 07:46 pm (UTC)

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Maybe the grim power dwelt in the mallet alone, and the gong was just a regular mundane standard Gongs'R'Us model. Of course, it would take experiment to find out, and Brother Wu's passing probably dampened the Monks' curiosity.
[User Picture]From: ursulav
2005-10-19 08:32 pm (UTC)

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Ooh, Gongs'R'Us! I love shopping there!
[User Picture]From: verdant_breeze
2005-10-19 08:05 pm (UTC)

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So, were you supposed to whack the gong with the woman's butt or with her head?
[User Picture]From: tuftears
2005-10-19 09:33 pm (UTC)

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Lockpicking actually can come in very handy for an explorer, but not in the way that seems most obvious.

Let's say you happen to need permission from a particular bureaucracy to finance your voyage... "It's on file already, just check it."
(Deleted comment)
[User Picture]From: rev_ursa
2005-10-22 08:37 pm (UTC)

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Because you know that Heinrichs den, back home, is the iconic perfection of tasteful rustic charm, mostly in earth tones.

Don't offend the fashion sense of a 700 lb critic.
[User Picture]From: stormteller
2005-10-19 11:35 pm (UTC)

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Personally, I'd have stood in the corridor, one hand on the door handle, and chucked small rocks at the gong, and certainly avoided touching the unpleasant mallet.
[User Picture]From: padparadscha
2005-10-20 07:14 am (UTC)

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Did you ever see that old DuckTales movie, where their guidebook said that in the case of booby traps they should use their marbles? For the rest of the show they stood way clear of the trip switches and used a a bag of marbles and a slingshot to see what they'd do. It was different every time.

Come to think of it, I think one involved a giant Indiana Jones Ball-type GEAR!!
[User Picture]From: passer_hedera
2005-10-20 12:04 am (UTC)

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And I have visions of Diggory in Charn flashing through my head--if only the inscribers of that gong had been so kind...

Wonderful.
[User Picture]From: stormteller
2005-10-20 03:46 am (UTC)

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He'd still have done it. He had a girl to be the voice of reason.
From: (Anonymous)
2005-10-20 12:09 am (UTC)

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The entire warning just made me want to strike the gong more.

Damn you Human Nature!
[User Picture]From: catswithwings
2005-10-20 02:26 am (UTC)

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Why do you think is the reason we were designed like that?
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