Penny Blake

Extraordinary Everyday


Cogs and spring and whirry things…

“Ask me where I’ve been”

“Where have you been Lord Flashheart?”

“Where haven’t I been? WOOF!”

Ah god bless Rik Mayall, we miss him still! But, I digress, this post is supposed to be a grave apology for my recent absence during which time we have acquired several new things, the most exciting of which having arms and legs and a fine set of healthy lungs via which it is able to demand milk and nappy changes and cuddles and baths and things and interfere adorably with life the universe and everything … and certainly the world of blogging!

But we are getting back on track now and working on several exciting projects which I’ll tell you more about later this week, suffice to say I’m over the moon at being able to work with some fab artists and writers who are not only super talented but also absolutely lovely folks so I’m feeling both excited and hugely blessed 🙂

Tales from the airship Katarina have been building too, so those will be appearing soon along with additions to the tea activists’ handbook and more weapons of choice for discerning ladies and gentlemen so, huge thankyous for your patience over the last few months and watch this space for enormous amounts of steam-powered silliness in the coming weeks 🙂

Escapological Marbles

Entry Taken From Weapons Of Choice And Miscellaneous Combatalia For Extraordinary Ladies And Gentlemen

Escapological Marbles

Whether you are tailing a notorious villain or being tailed yourself, no extraordinary adventurer should ever be caught without their marbles. Make sure you always have a nice sized bag to hand, ready to thwart the expeditious actions of your enemies.

How do they work?

Er…are you serious? You honestly don’t know how to use a bag of marbles to make good your escape? Tush and Fi what sort of an upbringing have you had? Go and find a five year old to explain it to you!

Spot Of Bother Boots

Entry taken from Weapons Of Choice And Miscellaneous Combatalia For Extraordinary Ladies And Gentlemen:

These awesome items of exemplary expeditional footwear are equipped to hoist the wearer out of any amount of adventurous difficulty. The boots cut such a spectacle of indomitability that they cannot fail to impress upon the senses the notion that the wearer is certainly an extraordinary individual who is aptly furnished to deal with absolutely any amount of bother (perhaps even a modicum of catastrophe).


How do they work?

In case of the need for expeditious retreat: The souls of the boots are packed with gunpowder tea which can be ignited by stamping down on the heel, causing the two pieces of metal concealed therein to strike together producing a 3,000degreeC spark. The resulting explosion forces a blast through circular holes in the sole of each boot, thus rocketing the wearer 800 ft into the air. At this point, the concertinaed wings on the side of each boot may be extended by unleashing them from their metal restraining clips and looping the leather guide ropes around each wrist, thus locking the wings in an outstretched position and allowing the wearer to both remain upright and to maneuver the wings to utilize warm air currents and optimize lift. An internal gyroscopic mechanism located on the top of the boot’s toe allows the wearer to navigate and maintain balance.

In case of the need for sudden invisibility: A switch operated with the big toe sends an electrical current from a single GORGON mini-battery through a copper filament coiled around several glass vials arranged along the outer edge of each boot. Each vial contains dry ice which, when heated in this way, becomes a thick, impenetrable fog and rises from the vials to surround the wearer, thus rendering their personage invisible.

In case of the need to do bloody murder: Attached to the side of the right boot is a holster perfect for housing one of the compact models of the GORGON aether-colliding energy ray pistol, such as the ladies’ 00HOWDELIGHTFULLYTINY or the gentlemen’s 00DEARWHATAPITYITALLHASTOENDLIKETHIS.

In case of the need for mass annihilation:

Attached to the side of the left boot is a mammalian heartbeat short-range transponder mounted atop a GORGON portable pocket cannonette. The transponder locks the cannon onto a target at a range of up to 20ft and fires one shot before locating a new target.

In case of the need for swift incapacitation:

Three incapacitating poison darts are located in a leather pouch on the side of the left boot.

In case of the need for emergency biscuits:

Emergency biscuits are located in a leather pouch on the side of the right boot, along with one vial of emergency absinthe and one vial of emergency super-strength earl grey.

Power source?


Possible limitations / set backs?

There have been occasional reports of mishap when attempting to use the spot of bother boots to get out of spots of bother:

  1. Although the rocket booster can usually be relied upon to catapult the wearer to a height of approximately 800 feet, allowing them to extend the wings and make good their escape, instances have been noted when the boots have failed to quite reach this height. One example is the unfortunate case of Mr. Arthur. J. Aldershot who found himself stranded on the roof of his tithe barn after attempting to escape from an irate band of milkmaids whom he had recently dared to replace with GORGON Agri’ton farm machinery.
  2. As heat is used to activate a large number of the boots’ most excellent bother-defying features, close proximity to external heat sources may accidently trigger one or more of the functions. For example, Lady Grace De Coup, sitting with her feet upon the fender in the drawing room of her mother’s country mansion, suddenly found herself sitting amid the blighted wreckage of the lower floors surrounded in billowing clouds of fog. Thankfully the explosion had not damaged the emergency biscuits and the simmering mixture of absinthe and earl grey was, according to her ladyship, ‘the perfect reviving beverage to be taken under the circumstances.’
  3. It is vital that the boots are kept clean and free from dirt and debris which may clog the mechanisms, causing some of the features to backfire, and also to be aware of the precise actions of the feet and toes which will activate the boots’ various features to avoid accidental activation and possible loss of life and limb.

The Opprobrious Pith Helmet

Entry from Weapons Of Choice And Miscellaneous Combatalia For Extraordinary Ladies And Gentlemen

Opprobrious Pith Helmet

Due to the fact that this item of militant millinery must be created using some of the most powerful and nefarious magic known to human kind, it is an extremely rare (though curiously not much sought after) article. Although the Opprobrious Pith Helmet looks much like any run of the mill piece of expeditional headwear, it is in fact merely a vessel (something akin to a bottle of jinn, if you will) for housing the pugnacious spirits of various deceased, demonic matriarchs.

How does it work?

The spirit of the deceased may be that of a mother, aunt, grandmother or any other female relative of the one who is to wear the helmet. The effectiveness of the helmet depends entirely upon the relationship between the spirit and the wearer so in some cases a closer relationship is more desirable, whilst in others, clearly, not.  (It has been known for helmets to fall into the possession of those with no family connection to the deceased but the results have usually been catastrophic.) When the wearer is in dire need, the spirit within the hat is bound to leap to their defense – this is the condition of a contract created between the magic user who created the helmet and the spirit. In exchange for this service, the spirit obviously benefits from the deal by being allowed back into the world to voice its opinions and interact with the populous at large, albeit in the restrictive form of a hat.

Set backs and possible limitations:

Obviously, as the hat, or at least the spirit inside it, has a mind of its own it may not be relied upon to always provide the most appropriate or helpful support to the wearer in times of jeopardy. In some cases, the spirit within has even been known to bring vast quantities of jeopardy upon the wearer, particularly where the spirit is one who takes a certain malicious delight in vexing the wearer or causing them physical harm or social embarrassment.

A true Opprobrious Pith Helmet is a rare thing indeed and, sadly, fakeries abound. The most common of these use a concealed voice recording played on an intermittent loop and concealed within the lining of the helmet in order to emulate the voice of a spirit, however there was once a case of an African grey parrot being concealed inside the lining which was only discovered when the creature died and began to smell.

Weapons Of Choice And Missileaneous Combatalia

The release day for our long awaited LARP book ‘The Everyday Extraordinaries’ is almost upon us. The production of this has been an amazing roller coaster ride involving so many wonderful, talented and exuberant Steampunk enthusiasts (and some awesome friends and family who had never heard of Steampunk before in their lives) who have suffered stoically through frantic days and sleepless nights welding, stitching, hotgluing, spray painting, manically guzzling tea, roaming various open spaces and cityscapes in search of elusive china teasets, playtesting and generally listening to me waxing idiotic about fruitcake theories and dystopian parallel dimensions. This book is a collaborative labour of love and my most enormous amounts of gratitude go out to all the extraordinary ladies and gentlemen who have made it possible.

And so, like the veritable magpie I am, ‘on to the next treasure’ …

In this case:

Weapons Of Choice And Missileaneous Combatalia For Extraordinary Ladies And Gentlemen; A useful hand guide to my Waistcoat-Pocket Arsenal including many of my most nefarious, eccentric and useless inventions, several of which feature in the Ashton’s Kingdom series and all of which can be easily constructed by armchair-inventors and  used when playing The Everyday Extraordinaries (Or indeed any other LARP system or event which will allow them).

As each entry is completed I will post it on here so if you want to go ahead and have a go at making and using any of these crazy creations you can go right ahead and do so. Similarly if you want to share them that’s fine too, all I ask is that you make sure folks know they are my brain-children so they know to come and incarcerate me and not you 😉

Section One: Miscellaneous Millitant Millineria:

1. Top Hat Of Imposing Mental Prowess

This essential piece of headwear may come in many guises, all of them tall and many of them black. The Top Hat Of Imposing Mental Prowess infuses the brain of the wearer with the ability to outwit, outsmart and outthink (although unfortunately not outrun) his or her opponents in any challenge requiring a superior or more rapid intellect.

How does it work?

The underlying mechanical and alchemical principles are similar to those used in the recent development of Titter Technology.

The hat is equipped with an aerial which channels thought waves from the aether into a box attached to the side of the hat. This box holds a Statistical Alchemical Translation Device coupled to a Synaptic Frequency Filter. The Synaptic Frequency Filter provides an adaption to the traditional function of the SATD so that, instead of harvesting thought and sound waves, distilling them into their constituent parts and then recombining them using a comparison-based logic system into another language, the SATD now collates only thought waves, separates them into ‘idiotic’, ‘average’ and ‘ingenious’ and feeds only the ‘ingenious’ waves into the mind of the wearer via a series of electrodes concealed within the lining of the hat. The hat’s range is adjustable up to a distance of approximately 1,000 square miles.

Power Source?

One GORGON theremythium battery is enough to power this hat for approximately six months, depending on usage.

Possible set backs and limitations?

At present, the ability of the SATD to discriminate between ingenious thoughts that will be useful to the wearer and ingenious thoughts that will nonetheless be completely irrelevant is severely limited. This may occasionally lead to the wearer spouting utter incomprehensible and illogical nonsense at inopportune moments and has, unfortunately, lead to one or two cases of accidental incarceration on the grounds of mistaken madness. There is also, as such, no linguistic preference setting which has also proved problematic for some.


Lessons in Chai Latin (A useful trick for #Steampunks Engaging In Espionage)

The Wyvern and I were recently made aware of a  rather unfortunate incident in a certain  botanical garden, which ended in a most adequately and  intrepidly attired personage being pelted with pensioners’ packed lunches and ousted from the premises purely as a result of his companion not being fluently conversant with the coded language he was using to communicate.

This state of affairs cannot be allowed to continue.

We therefore thought it might be useful to share this simple, amusing and aptly-themed method for covert conversation to be used in any setting where there are other Steampunks present who wish to converse covertly. If you were ever forced to learn Latin at school, or if you grew up anywhere near East London, you will find this very easy to get the hang of…

Chai Latin

1. Take the word you intend to speak

(for example ‘Buffoon’)

2. Remove the initial consonants

(in this case leaving ‘uffoon’)

3. Choose the title of a well know tea (for example Assam) and insert this into the new word after the next consonant (if there is no other consonant just stick it at the end of the word)

(leaving uffassamoon)

4. Finally replace the initial consonants after the last letter of the title of the tea,

(Giving us ‘uffassamboon’)

5. If this now sounds utterly unutterable (eg tea might end up as ‘eaassamt’) you may insert an extra tea name on the end (thus making ‘eaassamtoolong’ which sounds much better.)

This code is vastly superior to Pig Latin because every word can have as many variations as there are types of tea and still be decipherable by the person you are speaking to, assuming they have a fairly healthy obsession with hot beverages (and, frankly, what Steampunk doesn’t?)

I will try and make a post in the near future entirely in Chai Latin but, for now, do feel free to use it in your own adventures (or simply to irritate your boss / geography teacher … )

Chin-chin for now, Penny 🙂

larping around #Steampunk style

LARP – or ‘Live Action Role Play’ – has been around since the very first child in the universe picked up the very first stick that had fallen from the very first tree (probably the infamous apple one) and cried “Sir, You are being hunted!” 

Certainly when I was at school I remember every Friday and Saturday night was ‘larp night’ (actually I think the locals used to call it ‘freak night’ – how pleasant some folks can be eh? -) Of course the notion of actually paying hard earned paper-round money to acquire expensive cosplay equipment had not yet trickled down the geek mill to reach our UK-based urban jungle and, on reflection, perhaps we did look a little disconcerting; large mob of teenagers wearing their mother’s eyeliner and their father’s welly boots with strange tin-foil contraptions strapped to their backs, wielding mutilated household appliances and chatting nonchalantly about escaped dragons, invading zombie hoards, dark elf rebellions and their next dimension leap as we queued for our fish and chips.

This was urban fantasy come to life – the town with all its parks and play areas (no I promise we didn’t graffiti and drop fag ends everywhere, we were far too busy fighting for our lives), its abandoned warehouses and multi-story carparks, its back-alleys and rooftops, was the perfect setting for our adventures and our imaginations ran wild without the restriction of rules or dice or ‘I’m sorry but your character doesn’t get that ability until level five-hundred-and-nobody-cares-what.’ We’d spent our whole childhoods thus far playing games. We were pro at it. We didn’t need a costume manufacturer, rpg system designer or player’s handbook to teach us how. And we didn’t want to stop because the dreaded bald pate of adulthood was leering its repugnant self over the horizon of our not-so-far-off-future.

Since those days larp has grown up – a lot! – and although I think it absolutely splendid to be able to tootle off to a country manor house, an underground cave system or even acres of fantasy-inspired landscaped countryside and totally immerse oneself in some excellent adventures, there is a small (…oh OK rather a LARGE) part of me that resents paying hundreds of pounds for costumes and camping and petrol and then to actually play the game… it soon adds up doesn’t it.

I’m in NO WAY belittling organised larp events – they are awesome and should never ever stop. Especially they should be celebrated because there are not many places in this enormous planetary playground where extraordinary ladies and gentlemen can safely meet together and be themselves without fear of being pelted with verbal abuse and air-borne takeaways by The Mundanes.

What I am saying is that, as this ‘grown-up-larping’ becomes ever more popular, lets not lose sight of what larp truly is.


I say this because recently there have been rather a lot of internet posts around belittling people for the inadequacy of their larp attire or their ineptitude at ‘playing by the rules.’ It’s my sneaking suspicion that these comments have come from folks who are new to the wonderful-world-of-geekdom and its all-embracing nature but, nevertheless, I think it’s plain that we need to address this early (and I was happy to see some sci-fi panels doing just that a few months ago which is grand.)

One of the beautiful things about Steampunk larp is its ‘home-spun’ aesthetic that really works well in that genre. Mad inventors make stuff, they don’t buy it pre-perfectly-fabricated from ebay and thus, genuine mad inventions often have bits that spring hazardously apart at inopportune moments. Lord Archie’s intergalactic armour might be looking a bit weather-beaten, but then that’s a mark of all the wear and tear it has seen in space-battle and as for Lady Tabitha Wingship’s crinoline, well she had to make that unsightly repair to the seam when it caught on the propeller of the dirigible she was leaping out of to escape the evil Barron-Von-übertrieben… have you ever had to make an emergency seam repair whilst dangling from your petticoats at 40,000ft? Well have you? Oh … well then you know exactly what I’m talking about. 

So strap on your tin-foiled shoebox and grab your welly boots and your spray-painted nerfgun, or garb yourself in your thousands of pounds worth of chainmail and pristine-polished armour my friends, whichever you prefer, and lets smile at eachothers style instead of putting eachother down.

I’ll leave you with this wonderful Professor E song which my son showed me at the weekend and which really captures what I am trying to say here – larp is about grown ups being able to continue having the fun we still need even though we’re not kids anymore. Lets just remember that that is what it is all about and not sneer at eachother because, frankly, geeks don’t sneer at diversity – we celebrate it.

Published on Jun 19, 2014

All In Together appears on the teaSea records double album ‘The Giddy Limit’
Available now at and the usual internet emporiums.