Monday 25 November 2019

The Exciting World of Cryptobiology and Pseudoscience

Welcome to our series of Open University lectures introducing the layman to two exciting, and often life-threatening, areas of avant-garde scientific research.

In this series, filmed recently at the Darley Dale centre for nuclear exploration and cake redistribution, we, the Lost Faculty of Cryptobiology and Pseudoscience from University of Salem, intend to exemplify, mystify, and horrify you in equal measure.

So sit back, tighten up those restraints and brace yourself as we take you to places you didn't know that you didn't know didn't exist...except they do!

Lecture 1 - Cryptobiology 101 (or 'How to Kill Monsters'), featuring test subject 'Phil'.

In this lecture we shall illustrate the dos and don'ts of destroying scientific test subjects that have got out of hand and need obliterating before the authorities find out and revoke your research grant.

We shall be ably assisted in this endeavour by the Red Shadiws display team, featuring the Guru and Destro.

Here you can see our team getting into position for the beginning of the demonstration. It's important to take every precaution to avoid accidental (or deiberate) deaths amongst the faculty.

And here you see the Red Shadows moving cautiously through terrain. This caution is wise as scientific aberrations can often breathe fire, spit venom or be fitted with heavy machine guns by over-enthusiatic undergraduates.

Another wise choice is the use of heavy weaponry, such as this laser-bazooka. Ironically, the best method of controlling destructive biological monstrosities created by scientists that think little of the consequences of their work can be unleashing destructive technological monstrosities created by scientists that think little of the consequences of their work.

In this case, the laser-bazooka's efficacy is shown by it's immediate demolition of a mutant fly (not shown on screen to avoid the inevitable PETA letters).

Here's another fairly basic principle demonstrated by Destro: never approach a monstrosity alone. Faceless minions should always accompany you so that they can be eaten first.

Try, if at all possible to approach from the rear of the beast, and stay away, as much as possible, from any sharp edges or prehensile appendages.

During your approach, a liberal application of ballistic weaponry can be effective. Although this can seem ineffectual, over time you have the potential to wear down your target.

However, you must always be conscious that despite taking all sensible precautions, monstrosities often show preciously unobserved abilities that allow them to slip through your carefully constructed trap and slip away to a nearby roof, sewer system or elevator.

Also, if a monstrosity is this close to your laser-bazooka operative, mistakes have been made.

In fact, proximity should be avoided when dealing with anything with claws, scales, tentacles or potentially contagious skin conditions.

Be aware that not all threats are horrifically ugly or easily identified visually. Here, the bright pink slime creature is an obvious threat, however the Red Shadows operative has been momentarily distracted by our appealing foreign exchange student, Ivana Benderova.

This distractingly sexy, yet strangely cold and emotionless Russian twentysomething catching his eye is enough to allow the slime creature to close with him.

Remember the earlier point about proximity?

Also, you must hold your nerve, even when a monstrosity appears where you least expect it. Keep up your fire, as some shots will penetrate the creature's hide.

Here we see the consequences of careless proximity as Destro and his minion are eviscerated and dissected.

It is important when facing scientific aberrations to keep a cool, rational mind and remain dispassionate; avoid recklessly fleeing for your life, as this will achieve nothing. Here you can see the Guru and his Lieutenant keeping calm despite the dismemberment of their associates.

This scientific detachment will allow you to achieve your goals in stressful situations, as seen here. The Guru calmly extracts himself from combat and opens fire on the creature, inflicting a killing blow thanks to the damage inflicted earlier in the process.

This represents successful outcome as now the clean up can commence and plausible deniability can be maintained.

When seeking to remove evidence of your work, just remember this formula:

Success = (Tenacity - Proximity)Bazooka

Lecture 2 - The Application of Force, featuring test subject 'David'.

Obviously, being able to maintain a respectable front and clean up after ourselves is important, but what most aspiring pseudoscientists want to know, is how to unleash their work upon an unsuspecting world that hates and fears them.

For this demonstration we shall be unwillingly 'assisted' by a group of religious zealots, of the sort that often hinder our work. These were transported from the 1800s through a prototype temporal portal which has been commissioned by the Conservative Party to allow them to send Jacob Rees Mogg back.

One important lesson to learn is that zealous mobs love to get close to our creations in order to tear them down with pitchforks and poorly constructed theological arguments.

We should encourage this, as it allows us to use the advice about proximity in the previous lecture to our advantage.

However, be careful to ensure that proximity is only achieved with the fascinatingly deadly fruits of our labour, and not the research team.

Be aware that not all mobs come armed only with farm implements, therefore take steps to protect your creations until proximity is achieved.

It can be beneficial to allow ethical opponents to feel like they are getting the upper hand before you strike. However, be careful that you don't give too much ground in the early stages.

Also be conscious that after you've unleashed your beast to devastating effect upon a fanatic mob, they may seek out less dangerous targets, such as yourself, and avoid further confrontation with your creations.

In these circumstances you should deploy fast moving servitors to track them down and continue to discuss vigorously.

You may need to divide your team and set them different objectives. Trust that independence encourages competence. Don't seek to micromanage.

However, there comes a time when concentration of force allows you to apply the greatest pressure on a crucial nexus of resistance.

If you don't do this, you could find loopholes in your methodology exploited.

Also, bunkers work best if you stand inside them, not behind them.

Ultimately, remember that your work is the result of your academic superiority, and that the more you can keep sceptics focused on it and not you, the more successful you will be.

Because logical argument combined with lethally sentient aberrations will eventually win any debate convincingly.

Lecture 3 - The Struggle to Secure Funding, featuring test subject 'Shaun'.

Although both exhilarating and newsworthy, the cutting edge study of Cryptobiology somehow fails to attract corporate sponsors, and so when the opportunity to fund new research arises, it should be firmly grabbed with both tentacles (along with any vestigial mandible you might possess).

Government Quangos, for example Department X, can often beat genuinely adventurous scientists who want to push the boundaries of society to grants and bursaries.

First example, this bunch of pedestrian labrats are seeking support for 'Spectrum R&D'. Honestly! What's to research and develop, they're just colours!

It's important, when seeking funding, to not be to open about your greatest achievements so far. This allows them to be unveiled as early successes that can make an investor feel like they are getting an immediate return.

It's important to get to an investor before your competitors, and so Ms Benderova gets to the money first.

You should seek to frustrate a rival's advances whilst making your own persuasive points, as demonstrated by the team obstructing Dr Hugo Solomon, whilst Professor von Schteppyonde discusses risks and opportunities.

Be aware that your competitors may seek different angles of approach and you should take steps to obstruct these so that you can make your case. Self-replicating slime creatures are excellent in this respect.

Strong argument, delivered with forceful passion can be quite overwhelming. A sudden stunning strike by Dr Kurtz, followed up by unleashing the worm was very persuasive.

This secures the trust of the potential investor.

Be aware that any parts of your bid that go out on a limb can be exploited by rivals. Here Dr Kurtz is exposed by the Spectrum researchers.

However, even at this point you should be aware of late bids being snuck in.

Here you can see slime creatures duplicating to secure the route of advance.

All you need to do is prevent any arguments being made to you investor that can sway him from supporting you. The slime creatures do not need to survive as you can make more.

Ultimately, you must remember when to show your hand and when to conceal it, as sponsors do not want to be associated with the less savoury aspects of our work. Here, the worm attacks the Spectrum operatives and then is cleverly disguised as an inflatable outside of a car showroom.

Finally, planting operatives in your opponent's operation can be used to frustrate their bids. Here, Colonel White reveals his true allegiance by shooting Corporal Black in the back of the head.

At the end of this series we should stress that if you are able to secure funding, cover your tracks and use your creations with brutal efficiency, then a brilliant career in Cryptobiology and Pseudoscience awaits.

I'm aware that this is one of my more bizarre event reports, but it was the 'Open University' 7TV Day held by the Dale's Wargames Club. A really fun day where the aim was having fun and teaching new players. Big thanks to my opponents, Phil, David and Shaun, and especially to James and the other club members for organising it.


  1. Absolutely brilliant, I was enthralled throughout.

  2. Great report on the days events ;)

  3. Great stuff Kieron! Totally jealous of both you and Simon getting to play at these events 😀

    1. We are lucky to live close enough to several venues that host them.

  4. Love the theme of this report, a brilliant review of the event from the perspective of your cast.

  5. Very inventive, thank you for doing this :-) .

  6. That`s an outstanding post, I read this with much tittering and avid enjoyment.

  7. Very creative writing Kieron ... attention grabbing at first and attention retained throughout! :)