Saturday, October 20, 2018

Star Wars Clearinghouse

Doing some notebook clearinghouse and metal tidying, so here's a summary of the Skywalker Saga Dodecology.

Episode I: The Phantom Menace

Obi-Wan finds Anakin working on a spice freighter in the Outer Rim (alongside Uncle Owen, it ought be noted). Takes the boy under his wing, hoping that his potential in the Force might save the crumbling and corrupt Order. The first battlefronts of what would become the Clone Wars are opening up, interrupting their journey to Coruscant.

Episode II: The Clone Wars

Vignettes from the Wars, spanning several years. Anakin completes his training under Obi-Wan, starts a secret relationship with senator Padme Amidala, and is assigned an apprentice (Ahsoka). Campaigns on Geonosis, Nelvaan, and in interplanetary space are featured.

Episode III: The Dark Times

The wars have dragged on for over a decade at this point. Padme is pregnant with twins. Ahsoka knows about this and has essentially been adopted into the family at this point. Anakin becomes more and more vocally critical of the Council, the Republic, and the war effort. The Council, fearful of Anakin's legendary popularity with the public, attempts to blackmail him: this drives him toward Palpatine, who capitalizes on Anakin's desire to renew the Order and see the end the war. Anakin kills most of the Jedi council during Order 66 (no child murder), duels Obi-Wan to a standstill. Anakin is rebuilt as Darth Vader, Obi-Wan flees with Padme and Ahsoka. Complications during childbirth due to lack of appropriate medical care lead to Padme's death a few days later. Leia is put under the protection of Bail Organa, to be watched over by Ahsoka; Luke is sent to Owen and Beru on Tatooine, to be watched over by Obi-Wan.

Episode IV: A New Hope

Timeskip. Plot progresses as normal. Primary deviance is that Ahsoka is present (in disguise) as Leia's bodyguard. Obi-Wan and Ahsoka fight Darth Vader aboard the Death Star - both die. Everything else remains more or less the same, barring the psychological strain of Luke being responsible for the deaths of millions. Republic established as being both the Republic government-in-exile and the remnants of the CIS.

Episode V: The Empire Strikes Back

Plot progresses as normal, save Luke's guilt over the events in the previous movie fueling his abandonment of Yoda's teachings. The revelation of Vader as Luke's father is a surprise to the audience more because of the moment of humanity for Vader.

Episode VI: Return of the Jedi

Plot progresses as normal. Luke wrestles with his despair; his forgiveness of his father is also forgiveness of himself. Luke vanishes from the public eye at the end, to collect as many remnants of the Jedi as he can and work towards rebuilding both the order and the galaxy.

Episode VII: Rogue Squadron

Timeskip. The Alliance pushes towards the core. Leia is the only one of the core three to appear. Rogue Squadron manages to open a path at Borleas with the help of smuggling kingpin Talon Karrde, allowing the main fleet to reach Coruscant. Mother-fucking space battles.

Episode VIII: The Hand of Thrawn

Leia is very pregnant with twins. Luke emerges from his travels a changed man. He lays out plans for building a new Jedi Academy and the gathering of new recruits. Thrawn shows up, wrecks everyone's shit. Luke and Han meet up with Karrde to see about using his intelligence network to hold off Thrawn. Luke gets googly-eyes for Mara Jade, she thinks he's pretty swell, they start a little wink-wink nudge-nudge, it's all good. Space battle against Thrawn above Myrkr, Thrawn held off in a last-minute victory.

Episode IX: Heir to the Empire

Leia travels to Honoghr and convinces the Nohgri to switch sides. Luke and Mara fight the mad Jedi C'baoth on Wayland. Final battle with Thrawn. Jaina and Jacen Solo are born in the middle of said space battle. Han dies. Thrawn is killed by one of his bodyguards, Captain Pellaeon assumes control of the Imperial fleet and retreats to the border of the Unknown Regions in the Galactic north. Luke and Mara move to Yavin 4 in preparation for renewing the Jedi Academy.

Episode X: The Force Awakens

Significant timeskip. Luke, satisfied with his work, has handed off the Academy and has retired to a remote hermitage with Mara Jade. Rey, a jedi-in-training, is introduced as the new main character. Kyle Katarn, Corran Horn, Dorsk 81, Kirana Ti, etc are featured (at least in passing) as instructors.

Everything then goes all to shit as the Academy is sacked by an Imperial Remnant strike force, led by one Kylo Ren and the Knights of Revan. Rey barely manages to escape the assault, taking refuge on a rustbucket ship alongside Finn (Imperial defector), Poe (hotshot Republic pilot) and Rose (mechanic). They learn that the strike was one of several, all aimed at crippling a galaxy that had grown complacent. A man known only as Snoke has declared himself emperor and returned the Remnant to strength in the Unknown Regions. Rey and co. zip-zap around trying to find Luke's hermitage and avoiding Kylo and the Imperial Remnant (It's Avatar in space at this point, we're doing Avatar in space.)

Episode XI: The Last Jedi

Cannot be fixed.

For real, I have bashed my head against this wall for ten months now and I have to finally admit that i don't think it's possible. So much of TLJ is possible only by ignoring factors that lead into it, and in this setup I've written there are even MORE factors to deal with than went into the actual movie.

So the buck stops here. Substitute Avatar Season 2 for filler. Rey learns both the light and dark from Luke and Mara. There is a wound in the Force. The division of light and dark was never supposed to exist, and now the two sides devour each other in an eternal cycle.  Luke and Mara get an amazing final fight duet against Kylo Ren (who is Jacen Solo). The torch is passed for the final time to Rey. Last shot to bring balance.

Episode XII: Balance of the Whills

Rey goes to Korriban, site of the original wound in the Force, defeats Snoke (who might be channeling some Nihilus), and ends the cycle of imbalance. Form hereon there are no Jedi nor Sith, there is only the Force in balance.

Other notes 

  • Liam Neeson plays Talon Karrde.
  • The final trilogy might work better as a TV series. I am sticking to Avatar in Space.
  •  I wanted to keep changes relatively in line with the current of the existing movies (hence why TLJ was a "give up" moment - fixing requires replaced in that case)
  • Fitting Mara in the Rey trilogy was one of the more difficult things to manage. In old versions of this she was heading the search for Luke in disguise, Ben Skywalker had been killed by Kylo at the academy massacre (which of course eliminated the plot because Mara just insta-gibs Kylo on sight in that case.) and overall she just sunk the story.
  • Consider this ghost exorcised. We're done here.

Tuesday, October 16, 2018

Guns and Kung-Fu for Knaves of All Sorts

Arky Fitzwater


The bones of this are stolen wholesale from Luke Thomson and Ben Milton (again!)

Firearms come in two basic categories.
  • Pistol - d8 damage, 1 slot, 3 quality, can be fired in melee
  • Rifle - d10 damage, 2 slots, 3 quality, disadvantage when fired into melee.
Reloading depends on what kind of gun you have.
  • Black powder - Must be reloaded after each shot, reloading takes a turn.
  • Semi-automatic - Pistols have 6 shots, rifles have 8.
I tend to imagine the cutting edge of firearms in my games to be something akin to Colt revolvers and Winchester rifles. No further than an M1 Garand. Which will still co-exist with black powder muskets. Anachronism reigns supreme.

An ammo pouch and cleaning tools take up 1 slot. It can hold 24 charges / bullets

Rifles can be affixed with a bayonet (d6 damage, 3 quality, 1 slot), which can be removed and used as a normal melee weapon if needed.
For those who want more granularity / variety among their firearms, tags can be integrated, as per Luke's post.

A standard grenade takes up 1 slot and does 2d6 damage within a 10 foot radius, ignoring armor.


Martial Arts

Fighting styles fulfill the role of both weapon and armor, and take up equivalent slots. Multiple styles may be learned by a character, but only one can be equipped at a time - switching styles requires that you have the slots available for use. New styles can only be learned by finding a master and then leveling up while in their tutelage.

Each martial art has a perk and a drawback.

49 Empty Palms - d8 damage, 14 AC, 5 slots
  • Perk - Your attacks count as magical.
  • Drawback - Known only to angels.

Peasant's Path - d6 damage, 12 AC, 2 slots
  • Perk - You blend in with crowds of commoners and rural folk.
  • Drawback - You cannot hold a position of high social status.

Wheel of the Elements - d6 damage, 13 AC, Spells: Shape Earth, Control Fire, Bend Water, Move Air, 7 slots
  • Perk - 1/2 damage from preferred element.
  • Drawback - Double damage received from opposed element.

Crane Style - d8 damage, 13 AC, 4 slots
  • Perk - Your reach is as a spear.
  • Drawback - Disadvantage when resisting knockdown.

Mountain Stance - d10 damage, 18 AC, 9 slots
  • Perk - You cannot be knocked down in this stance.
  • Drawback -You cannot leave the ground in this stance.

Pressure Point Style - 0* damage, 15 AC, 5 slots   
  • Perk - You can catch anything thrown to you.
  • Drawback -Your hands are permanently numb.
* Target must pass a CON save or be paralyzed.

Way of the Pebble - d6 damage (ranged),  14 AC, 5 slots

  • Perk - If you kill an enemy, you may make an additional attack on a second.
  • Drawback -Skin takes on a rough, unpleasant appearance.

Porcelain Fist - d10 damage, 11AC, 3 slots
  • Perk - You may damage yourself to do more damage (no greater than lvl)
  • Drawback - Healing you receive is half as effective.

Drunken Monk - 2d4 damage, 13 AC, 4 slots
  • Perk - Can use any item as an improvised weapon
  • Drawback - Must be intoxicated to use this stance.

Way of the White Hand - d6 damage 16 AC, Spells; White Hand, Black Hand, 8 slots
  • Perk - Knowledge of distant lands and cultures.
  • Drawback -Vegetarian diet, deathly feud with the Red Hand.

 Several perks / drawbacks were suggested by twocalf on the Discord server. That gif is an edit from K6BD done by Cryophage.

Monday, October 15, 2018

OSR Guide for the Perplexed, by the Perplexed, Dandyman Edition

Jumping on the bandwagon, original post here.

1. One article or blog entry that exemplifies the best of the Old School Renaissance for me:

"The Coolest Thing Ray Ever Did" by Jeff Rients, and "Orcs, Violence, and Evil" by Emmy Allen.

2. My favorite piece of OSR wisdom/advice/snark:

"No worries, we'll figure something out."

3. Best OSR module/supplement:

Kiel Chenier's Blood in the Chocolate. Perfect opening session or one-shot.

4. My favorite house rule (by someone else):

Emmy Allen's horrible wounds. Also, luck checks, either DCC's luck stat or RPPR's "call high or low on a d100".

5. How I found out about the OSR:

I was cruising around looking for 5e homebrew, stumbled across Chainsaw Chirugeon, found Goblin Punch in the sidebar, and then I just kept clicking things in his sidebar.

6. My favorite OSR online resource/toy:

Ramanan's automatic level 1 character generator, but also Purple Sorcerer's level 0 party generator. Also the Links to Wisdom.

7. Best place to talk to other OSR gamers:

G+ is still my favorite, but it's dying. The Discord server is a hip and happening place, though.

8. Other places I might be found hanging out talking games:

As above, Chris McDowell's OSR Discord server. I will eventually get on twitter, but I won't like it.

9. My awesome, pithy OSR take nobody appreciates enough:

I love having a shelf full of weird indie RPGs. Also, new blood + cross pollination is the good life.

10. My favorite non-OSR RPG:

Shadow of the Demon Lord, WEG Star Wars, Call of Cthulhu / Delta Green.

11. Why I like OSR stuff:

Simplicity breeds creativity which results in people making cool stuff which inspires other people to make other cool stuff.

12. Two other cool OSR things you should know about that I haven’t named yet:

Benton Molina's Incunabuli is some bloody fantastic prose and I can't wait for the book.
Signs in the Wilderness is mythic Americana and I can't wait for the book.

13. If I could read but one other RPG blog but my own it would be:

Goblin Punch, even though Arnold doesn't update very much any more.

14. A game thing I made that I like quite a lot is: 

The map of the Distant Lands of Diy. Mother Stole Fire and Unicron Meat too.

15. I'm currently running/playing:

Running: Everyone's favorite drug-fueled escapades across the Danscape.
Playing: Michael Kennedy's DCC Weird Marches game as Ayo the drunken monk.

16. I don't care whether you use ascending or descending AC because:

Descending is just unintuitive, not broken.

17. The OSRest picture I could post on short notice:

Wednesday, October 10, 2018

SpaceKnave Cybernetics Emporium

Jakub Rebelka

Each module takes up a single encumbrance slot, as a spell would. They may be "cast" according to Knave (one use per day, per module) or VAM rules (casts / day = level, shared among all modules). Some modules can be active all the time - in this case, invested energy is not restored.

Much of this list was torn directly from Ben Milton's Knave, and owes inspirational debt to Luke Thomson.

  1. Additional Arms - Two secondary arms.
  2. Advanced Hearing - Can hear faint noises, dampen excessive ones, filter specific sounds.
  3. Advanced Scent - Can identify and track scents.
  4. Advanced Vision - Telescopic, microscopic, enhanced clarity.
  5. Air Filter / Air Reserves - Filters out airborne toxins, provides internal storage for
  6. Body Jump - Can transfer consciousness to another entity with a cyberbrain.
  7. Brainskim - Can intercept superficial data / thoughts on local network.
  8. Catherine - Projects nanoswarm-form of woman in a blue dress who will fulfill sensible requests.
  9. Cryoprojector - Sprays a freezing mist.
  10. Cuttlefish Skin - May change skin color and texture at will; can disguise as other people.
  11. Cyberbrain - Direct brain-to-computer link and data storage device.
  12. Deafen - Temporarily deafens target.
  13. Detect Network - Detects nonstandard wireless networks.
  14. Disassembler Swarm - Nanites can break down 1 meter cube of material into components.
  15. Drone Module - Detachable, remote-controlled utility drone. Spider, snake, hover variants available.
  16. Exowomb - Provides comfortable and safe gestation of a wide range of available embryos.
  17. Foam Projector - Creates quick-hardening foam.
  18. Fog Projector - Creates a thick, cold fog.
  19. Ghostrider - Can store a secondary consciousness, requires cyberbrain.
  20. Healing Module - Any healing is made one step up the die ladder.
  21. Hibernation Module - User may sleep for up to 6 months without ill effect.
  22. Holo-Projector - Projects a moving, lifelike image.
  23. Hypercalculator - Permits high-power calculations and data-processing.
  24. Illuminator - Generates a bright light that floats about the user.
  25. Invisible Mark - You may place an AR tag that only you can see.
  26. Language Module - You may understand and speak languages they do not normally know.
  27. Library Card -  May ask research questions of the DM about specific subjects.
  28. Lockpick Module - Forcibly-opens a mechanical or electric lock.
  29. Magnetic Grips - Hands and feet may become magnetized.
  30. Marble Mania - Your pockets are filled with remote-controlled marbles.
  31. Mechanitendril - Prehensile mechanical tendril.
  32. Mindjack - Can hack into an inhabited cyberbrain.
  33. Nanovampire - Drains nanites from target individual or hive for health or additional implant usages.
  34. Night Vision - Grants greyscale, medium-range vision in low-light environments.
  35. Opposable Feet - Can hold and manipulate items with feet.
  36. Phobia / Aggression / Peace - Engenders
  37. Printer Module - Can print an item with time, blueprint, and raw resources.
  38. Protective Nanohive - Counteracts nanotech hazards.
  39. Q-Net Uplink - Permits access to the Q-Net, with all danger and reward that entails.
  40. Recover Data - Can bring back contents of damaged cyberbrain or computer.
  41. Reward Center - Grants dopamine shot or pain according to programmed criteria.
  42. Sensory Jack - You may scramble the sensory inputs of a single target.
  43. Sockpuppet - False identity, in case of emergency.
  44. Spider Grip - You can keep a grip on flat surfaces
  45. Springheel Feet - Aids in long-distance jumping.
  46. Temporal Perception Modulator - Accelerates or slows target's perception of time.
  47. Thermal Vision - Grants heat-sensing vision.
  48. Trollnet - Botswarm in a bottle, comes with selection of pre-programmed ideologies and behaviors.
  49. Web Projector - Creates a sticky silken web.
  50. X-Ray Vision - Grants vision through walls.

Monday, October 8, 2018

d66 Folk

The King in Yellow once sought to make a record of all the Folk in the world. Under the tutelage of Bai Ze of the White Marsh he learned the names and natures of 11,520 types of magical beings, and wrote them all down in a single text.

The King said to Bai Ze: "Surely now that I have learned the names and natures of the 11,520 kin, I have made a record of all the Folk?"

Bai Ze said to the King: "You have not yet named a grain of sand in all the deserts of the universe."

Knowing that the great power of the White Marsh spoke the truth, the King despaired in his attempt, destroyed his text, and delved into more achievable fields of sorcery. Only references to fragments now remain.

The list below avoids the King in Yellow's folly by listing only some of those Folk who typically wear a form similar to man. It does not include the multitudes of spirits of the waters, wilds, and winds, which are well beyond counting, nor those who take the guise of animals, nor those who appear as outrageous monsters.

Justin Gerard

d66 Folk

11. Álfar - The cold kings and cruel queens in the from the Courts Beneath the Hills. They loathe and despise humanity for the insults made by Mother long ago. Why they wear man's face is not known; Mockery, perhaps.

12. Forest People - The Old Ones. Also called the First Folk, for they were the first to form a compact with Mother when she wandered the world as Clever Lu. The lords and ladies among them will wear robes of emerald and gold, and masks of celestial bronze.

13. Nymph - They take on the appearance of beautiful women, with their forms further shaped by the clime and environment. As they are found near-everywhere, this leads to a boggling array of phenotypes. (Mountain nymphs are rough and craggy and white-haired, river nymphs might be slender and blue or wide and brown, farmland nymphs are plump and smell of fresh-tilled earth, etc.)

14. Woodwose - Huge, hairy, gamboling; whose beards are filled with moss and whose skin is daubed with woad. They are often seen in the company of nymphs

15. Dwarf - The people of the Mountain King. Velvet fur, beaded eyes, pink star noses. None in all the world knows the earth and its treasures than the dwarves, and none may beat them in the making of metals and the cutting of gems.

16. Brownie - Spirits of house and home. Small as a cat, with big eyes, wide ears, brown skin, and nimble fingers. Will help out around the dwelling (catching pests, watching over children) in exchange for milk or whiskey and a warm cabinet to rest in. A brownie may venture beyond its home by carrying a fragment of the house with them (brownies who have lost their homes to disrepair or disaster are most commonly seen like this, carrying around little reliquaries on their backs).

21. Goblin - Everyone knows a goblin when they see one. Or hear one. Or smell one. You usually hear or smell them first. As subtle as a pie in the face or a bomb down the drawers, they are.

22. Hobgoblin - Sterile goblin females*. Humorless guards of the Goblin Queens and the masters of the Market. Fond of punctuality, laconism, and straight lines.

23. Jack-Puck - A goblin who has "gone legit" (or what passes for it among goblins); masters of the Goblin market. They are very, very wealthy, and so wear fine and fashionable garments. Less comedically ugly than normal goblins, still comedically ugly.

24. Gremlin - Pesky little bastards, smeared in soot and oil. They have an infinite curiosity for mechanical devices and  complicated trinkets, and enjoy nothing more than pulling something apart and putting it back together to achieve an entirely different function.

25. Kodama - Little wooden figurines a palm in height. They will peek out from the leaves and watch lonely travelers pass them by, whispering as if caught in the wind. They are considered good fortune, for their presence means the forest is healthy.

26. Troll - Huge and hunch-shouldered, with elephant's skin pebbled with riverbed stones. They wallow in rivers and lakes, or live alone in caves. They tend to keeping their monolithic troll-stones, through which one might speak to another across hundreds of leagues. They do not enjoy company in general (and hat goats in particular), but are fond of the birds that clean their teeth.

31. Wangoonie - Inhabitant of billabongs deep in the Red Desert. Territorial and terribly rude, like stealing things form travelers.

32. Red-Head -  Inhabitants of battlefields. They wear scavenged armor and dip their head-scarves in fresh blood. They dance and parade about with the heads of the fallen on pikes, mocking the dead for their folly. A violent and callous bunch.

33. Spookum - A general term for a unique, absurd being that appears during the mischief of Goblinwatch; alternatively, another name for the Bugaboo.

34. Mona Llarona - A horse-headed woman in a tattered white dress. Sometimes seen carrying a deceased infant. Weeps softly and without end; if disturbed, she will let out a bowel-loosening wail and pursue until a threshold is passed, or the intruders killed.

35. Shadow People - A shadow without a caster. Seen mostly in twos and threes, sometimes in great crowds, but never alone. They make no noise, and seem to take no notice of anything around them as they go about business that we cannot see.

36. Bogie - Pimple-faced, bug-eyed, snaggle-toothed, pencil-necked, drippy-nosed, nasal-voiced terribly awkward, occasionally frightsome pain in the craw.

41. Wispherder -  Body and limbs made of twigs. The head is a big brass lamp filled with green-blue fire, where will o'wisps are gathered up until it is time to release them into their swampy pastures.

42. Grey - Oversized heads, gigantic black eyes, clammy grey skin. About the size of a child. They will sneak into homes in the night, daze people with sleep paralysis, and be a general bother.

43. Uufoo - Discs, rods, pyramids, columns, decorated with glowing spots and coruscating colors. They fly about here and there without direction or purpose that men can gather. Very skittish Folk, they are never on the ground for long.

44. Mothfolk - They cannot stand the gaze of the sun, but love it dearly. On quiet mornings one might see them out on the hills, backs to the east, hoping to feel dawn's warmth before they descend to their burrows.

45. Slender Men - Faceless. Limbs like dead trees. Much, much too tall. Live deep in the woods. Feed on and spread paranoia, said to kidnap children and turn up the occasional mutilated body.

46. Druf - Squat, wide, wrinkly, wispy hair, conniving, shouting, spitting. Wears giant shoes and ill-fitting suits. Hates everyone and everything. Eternal enemy of the krump

51. Krump - Big, lopsided, striped, simple, blunt, brutish. Wear big hats and like cats, but not much else. Eternal enemy of the druf.

52. Mooncalf - Silvery skin, eyes too-widely spaced, gormless lopsided grins.  They never seem to figure out how bones and muscles work, and so flop and tumble their way. Should you see one on the road, give him your coat and he's  pay you in kind eventually.

53. Brindlebrook - Sleek like a mountain cat, they will stalk you through the hills for days, leaving you only glimpses in the twilight.

54. Hullabaloo - About the size of a bear. About the volume of a very, very, very loud bear. About the energy level of something that is far more boisterous than a bear. Bright purple, yellow, pink orange and other sherbet tones.

55. Lost Boys - Their bodies are those of young boys, their faces are those of ancient men. They serve Pan, the Black Goat, and are known for kidnappings, bonfires, wild and raucous hunts.

56. Grubbins - Collect hoards of treasure in their dens. Treasure to a grubbin is mostly refuse and garbage, however, but they take care of it fastidiously and let not a broken button roll out of place. They are very touchy about their precious collections.

61. Marefolk - Of significantly greater variety than landbound painters tend to attribute them, they have been seen with the traits of all manner of fish, sharks, cetacians, mollusks, cephalopods, nudibanchs, pinnepeds, corals, sponges, sirenians, and crustaceans. Those who live further way from the sea tend to fuse syllables and call them merfolk. A fierce band of black and white marefolk serve as Orca's honor guard.

62. Lantern Jacks - The dark coat of a highwayman, a pumpkin for a head with a fire inside. Roam lonely country roads near Goblinswatch, cutlass held high, drunken voice laughing and singing.

63. Lichwatchers - Hunchbacks in filthy grey rags, a single golden eye glowing at the end of a serpentine neck. They perch atop graves and cairns, staff in hand, watching and waiting for the restless dead.

64. Gobsmacker - Nearly perfectly round (or rather, nearly perfectly egg-shaped), they launch themselves through the air at great force with their door-sized hands. Easily identified by raucous laughter approaching from above.

65. Blodfiester - Potbellied  bloodsuckers, whose head is a ball of needles atop a giraffe's neck. Covered in downy feathers, glow read around the stomach.

66. Hidebehind - A docile and gentle creature made entirely unsettling by the fact that it is always behind you and so cannot be seen.

* This is not entirely true. Goblins, like all Folk, do not beget and are neither male nor female - the structure of goblin family is theorized to be a parody of human life. The most commonly held theory is that when a goblin's material form is destroyed, it will be 'born' again from its broodmother. this is also a handy explanation as to why goblins enjoy slapstick violence so much.

Tony DiTerlizzi


  1. Arctic
  2. Bush
  3. Desert
  4. Mountain
  5. Marsh
  6. Swamp
  7. Freshwater
  8. Saltwater
  9. Mushroom Jungle
  10. Rainforest
  11. Deciduous Forest
  12. Hills
  13. Tundra 
  14. Steppe
  15. Coral Reef
  16. Abyssal Ocean
  17. Savanna
  18. Coniferous Forest 
  19. Temperate Wetlands
  20. Urban


  1. Humanoid
  2. Animal
  3. Plant
  4. Artifact
  5. Natural Object
  6. Natural Phenomenon
  7. Hybrid
  8. Other

Words of the World

Humans who spend time among the Folk may learn their secret language. Sages, witches, hermits, shaman, and so on might know some of the following tongues.

  1. of Birds and Beasts
  2. of Deeps and Waters
  3. of Earth and Stones
  4. of Fire and Coals
  5. of Tree and Flower
  6. of Snows and Ice
  7. of Skies and Breezes 
  8. of Rains and Storms

Monday, October 1, 2018

Play Report: High Times in the Fungal Core (Danscape ep 4 & 5)

Previously on the Danscape: Wolves, Amazons, and the newest incarnation of Lantern Boy. A double header this time. As usual, the crew of the Divided Survival Probability is:
  • Waterblossom: eladrin magelander, organ farm escapee, frail bag of trauma (Michael K)
  • Blake, former gigolo, social climber, space drug addict, exiled queen (FM Geist)
  • Gavel, horrific space-wolf-man creature (Martin O)

Episode 4: A Requiem for Thimble Slim

With Blake in dire need of plastic surgery and Gavel cursed to space-wolfhood and use of a vocal synthesizer that replaces all curses with 'spaghetti', the crew makes their way to the myceliumated habitat of the Fungal Core, seeking out the aid of a diasporic amazon clan (known for their terrible, clashing-pattern fashion sense). They are aided by Ed, Sasquatch fighter (Sam P).

The coupon for plastic surgery is only good for part of the deal (and the curse must be broken by collecting the tongue of a noted astrologer), so Madam Ratsi (of Madam Ratsi's House of Fashion) says she'll cover the rest if the crew can put the squeeze on this flake by the name of Thimble Slim.

Tracking down Thimble Slim takes them around the Core, and we learn:

  • The astrologer is currently dead, his tower blocked up.
  • Street Mimes are allergic to water, and lay invisible eggs (Ed has one)
  • Cordyceps-infested space pigeons are everywhere.
  • Lantern Boy was left at the public library to learn the terrible secrets of warfare, at Blake's direction.
  • A book on astrology is then checked out of the library.
They are eventually able to track down Thimble Slim to a seedy dive called the Red Heron Bar & Brothel. Some slick talking with the bouncer (who is all for teaching Slim a lesson) persuaded him to send Slick into the back alley when he came in.

The crew devours a bucket of pigeon-wings with blue moon cheese sauce while they wait.

After half an hour or so, the back door is thrown open and Thimble Slim is tossed out. He is then, through clever application of hot cheese sauce, forced to read through the book of Astrology. While slim's head is holographic, the stump of his neck still contained a tongue-like muscle-flap, which was then removed. What remains of his stuffing is beaten out of him for walking out on paying his bill.= at madam Ratsi's.

Returning to the salon, Blake gets his surgery. Gavel decides to forgo breaking his curse, and just gets full-body augmentation surgery so now he's some horrific bipedal space-wolf-man with a human head inside his mouth, spreading fear and terror wherever he goes. Ed gets a nano sleeve tattoo of fake advertisements. Lantern boy continues reading strategy books.

This section has probably my favorite bizarre-gross monster description I have ever used, as an exotic dancer in the Red Heron - a cross between a tube-worm colony and the Diana of Ephesus.

Episode 5: Stone Cold Fremen Lantern Boy

Some time has passed since the last installment, and the group has settled in, more or less, in the Fungal Core. The crew is joined by Waterblossom's friend from his brief cult interlude: Rob, the corrupted anti-mutant (Max Cantor).  Blake decides to become a queen. Gavel embraces his horrible space-wolf-man form and starts on the path of the Very Good Dog. Blake and Gavel inject themselves with spell tumors, no side effects yet.

Blake immediately casts Date Ward, preventing his death for the next four days.

News arrives that Salamander Lady and her resistance have made good on the weapon recovered in Episode 3 - the Aboleth is dead. The good news is overshadowed by the fact that Salamander Lady has thrown Blake under the bus and stolen all the glory and fame for herself.

More importantly, news arrives that FRIDAY NITE FITE-DROME is to be held at St. Pugilist's orphanarium. Lantern Boy, having been pushed onto the militant path, requests entry. Gavel and Blake agree and support the choice, Waterblossom gibbers helplessly.

Lantern Boy is signed up for the Dunkeldronk Urchins' Fighting Union and, through the combined power of studying military strategy and Gavels Really Good Dog moral support, beats the ever loving shit out of the first half of the fights and goes into halftime 5-0.

It is here that the crew see none other than a destitute and clearly traumatized Corrin Shen, who has falled all the way to betting, and losing, on underground orphan fights. Blake makes contact and advises him (as his doctor, Queen Doctor Glitterhammer) to bet everything on "Stone Cold Fremen" Lantern Boy.

The trio finish off half time by giving LB a hidden scalpel-shank, some space cocaine, and the Weird Chair (as provided by the spell of the same name)

Rounds 6-9 are once again a shoe-in (save a significant loss in Round 7). Round 10 reveals itself to be not against another orphan, but a tall, pale man by the name of Osric the Shrike. (Spoilers: he is definitely a vampire) Blake attempts to get the crowd riled up, and instead manages to trigger no less than 16 potential suitors, drawn to his beautiful queenliness.

Round 10 is simple - score three hits, and the money is theirs. Gavel uses his spell _Find Strike_ to determine that Shrike has been stabbed in the general heart region recently (this was to imply that his heart was on the other side - it did not actually matter, as we will see.)

Lantern Boy (now under the control of the players) decides to go in with the Weird Chair as a weapon. With each strike it blackens and twists out of shape, until with the third hit it shatters and summons a horrible bloodshot eye demon that droops down from the ceiling.

Everyone panics. Gavel throws down his own Summon, grabs Lantern boy, and attempts to flee, taking damage from the Eye's great tentacle eyelashes. Blake and Waterblossom fight back, joined now by the out of control blood demon that Gavel had summoned.

But a few fans of the hammer and some torpedo sharks are enough to take down the Eye. Waterblossom flees, and Blake remains behind to take advantage of Date Ward.  He manages to beat the blood demon to death, though is reduced to ground beef and salsa in the process.

With the money from the fights, the crew looks towards future investments: reconstructive surgery to fix Blake, a hydroponic drug garden for the ship, and potentially tracking down blake's potential henchman-husbands or going after Waterblossom's organ-stealing creators.

The question is no longer "how will Lantern Boy die?"

It has become "how will anyone else survive?"


Beloch's Questions

  1. Thimble Slim was wronged, and absolutely knows. Osric the Shrike, ditto.
  2. Stealth and this party are not things that go together.
  3. Corrin Shen, if he survived, made a whole lot of money off of LB.
  4. After the Orphanarium disaster, unrest is spreading through the habitat as people turn up dead or mangled.
  5. "We're horrible people!"
  6. Lantern Boy is now a common name in the FITE-DROME circuit.
  7. Revenge upon the organ farmers (Waterblossom), dealing with henchmen husbands (Blake), seeking out Blake's king to reclaim his kingdom (also Blake)

Tuesday, September 25, 2018

Dan's Notebook of Unfinished Wonders, vol 2

The time has come, the walrus said, to dump unused ideas. Here's the second installment of the Notebook of Unfinished Wonders (see here for vol 1) wherein I exorcise all the dust bunny ideas taking up pagespace and mindshare. Following the list are some more developed things (or at least, enough that they need more than one sentence)

List of Minor Ideas

  1. Earthquakes drive away the undead, as they disrupt the earth-current those creatures leech from. Religiously, they are deliverance through destruction.
  2. The first churches on the island were built in long-quiet lava tubes, sanctuaries fortified against the dangers of the outside world.
  3. Time travel works, but only on the scale of millions of years. It is terribly inaccurate, and return beacons are insanely valuable to that end.
  4. The Red Priesthood of Quantum Bullshit
  5. Scout ships run on isolated time travel loops, returning to their origin point with tens of thousands of years worth of accumulated data.
  6. A people: tall, white-skinned, with thin vertical black stripes.
  7. Elves are physically immortal, but not mentally. They will eventually go mad, undergo brain-death, and then be reborn as (mental) infants.
  8. Elves control magically-fertile territory in the midst of apocalyptic wasteland under the control of the Emerald Emperor. Humans as third-class citizens.
  9. Class: Vessel Knight - Container of a mystic essence.
  10. Class: Hellmerchant - Sells people afterlife insurance in the great Oversouls.
  11. Class: Warframe Operator - Frames have 4 powers mapped to GLOG spell-like abilities.
  12. Kobold Alternatives
    1. Lamprey Lackeys
    2. Gecko Guys
    3. Cursed Fetus
    4. Gremlins Who Want to Die 
    5. Scab-Lads
  13. "I went up the river in a rusty canoe / what do you think I saw? / All manner of wriggling creeping things / freed up by the thaw."
  14. Jungian archetypes converted to character archetypes, law / chaos alignment variants.
  15. Character attributes based on the ancient Egyptian soul
    1. khat (physical body)
    2. k / ka (vital essence)
    3. jb / ib (heart; emotion, thought, will)
    4. b / ba  (personality, character)
    5. swt (shadow; secrets and hidden things)
    6. rn /ren (name)
    7. hw (intelligence and wisdom)
  16. Mechanic: orc-as disease, half-orc as infection
  17. Wizarding graduation regalia - highly symbolic, easy identification of specialization.
  18. The Alliance of 9 Worlds, formed 2192/2487
  19. The Dolorous Guard (Bill Norman, the Doorman)
  20. The mad Train-God, chaos lord, carving paths of hideous portent along ley lines.
  21. Moth-men worship the sun, but cannot stand its gaze. they look west at dawn before retreating to their caves.
  22. They came to worship the great and ancient beasts frozen in amber there...
  23. Goddess with blue skin, cloud hair, rust lips
  24. Vampires are anaerobic transhumans, used as the vanguard of colonization attempts.
  25. Meeting of posthuman seedship-derived species on a neutral space station.
  26. A sort of otherspace in the Pacific, fantastic islands impossible to reach through mundane navigation.
  27. As above, but in a warm, inland sea in the center of Antarctica.
  28. Asymmetrical long-war gives rise to elaborate and strict codes of conduct & courtesy.
  29. Typical grey saucer-aliens arrive after WW2, give human beings superpowers, it's actually a ploy to aid in their reproductive cycle.
  30. Grimdark low-magic little ice age euro-fantasy gives way to warm, colorful new age under the emergence of new gods. PCs were in stasis while the change occurred (Medusa is probable)
  31. White cloaks, black faces. Masks?
  32. "Will cast spells for food" - wizarding job market collapsed.
  33. What's In the Black Sarcophagus Dug Up From Underneath Corpathium / Vornheim / the Yellow City, etc?
    1. Actual literal Alexander the Pretty Okay
    2. Flamboyant, impossibly ripped vampire
    3. Oozing, billowing, tarry smoke cloud, animated
    4. Three skeletons and red goo 
    5. Legendary monkey-king
    6. Barnacle-encrusted skeleton with a sword (cursed)
    7. Mummified giraffe with no bones
    8. Dodecacephalon, hibernating
    9. A strairway down
    10. ???
  34. Ocean world, tidally locked, city in eye of perpetual dayside hyper-cane
  35. Mandragora - man-dragon - mandrake
  36. LG = constructive, CG = corrective, LE = exploitative, CE = destructive
  37. Cursed fiddles won from devils
    1. The Golden Standard
    2. A curled black horn, stinks of brimstone
    3. Ragged chunk of blood-red rock
    4. Rotten wood, quills and hairs
    5. Bruised flesh, dripping viscera
    6. Jagged, salt-crusted ice
  38. Stained glass creatures
  39. Yugchuth - a monster?
  40. Race: The Gogal
  41. Atwa - like a sphinx with a red face.
  42. Shroedinger's Box - "It is not a cat."
  43. "Succubus" - grey skin, folds like a shar-pei. Needle teeth, mother-of-pearl gums and tongues. Crown of thumb-sized horns. Young chew their way out of the parent.
  44. The Mississippi Line - monoliths raised along the river between 2000 and 2019, to defend against the dangers of the West.
  45. Ghosts: condensed, suspended in a medium, smoked as an intoxicant.
  46. Palad: a god - bleeds from mouth, hands, feet. speaks with a halo of word-symbols.
  47. A wild god: a gigantic winged centipede with pale placid human faces. 
  48. Belen's Folly - city built upon crashed von-neumann probe.
  49. Tyrants and autocrats love developing their own strain of orcs.
  50. Rations
    1. Brick of dried octopus
    2. Cave-lichen slurry
    3. Ooze jellycubes
    4. Soulcake
    5. Salamander jerky
    6. Pungon-pig
  51. Minor Creatures
    1. Hearth axolotls
    2. Eel axolotls
    3. 9-Life Chinchilla
    4. Sky Manta
    5. Angel Hair
    6. Priest-Strangler
    7. Penny Dreadful
    8. Kaiser Roller
    9. Tigerpenguin
    10. Spiderhino
    11. Tinglecreep
    12. Insomnia Imp
  52. Skeleton Zen Philosophy
  53. War-cult trying to keep their god satisfied and distant by their conquest, begin each battle with chanted pleas for forgiveness.
  54. Race: sealed iron casks, carried around by eunuch servitors
  55. Race: Small clay men filled with birds
  56. Race: Spiral trees growing out of the stomachs of quadruped slaves/
  57. Race: Tiny ceramic-shelled things, oozy and red inside.
  58. Pixies are little proxy bodies of a central bulb.
  59. Joan of Arc, on Barsoom.
  60. Goliaths are meat-suits built by halfling fleshcrafters out of the corpse of the god of war, who died because he was a fucking idiot and didn't realize that being the god of war did not mean he was the god of winning.
  61. Orcs are to humans as humans are to firbolgs. There is a gradient to disassociation with the world. Humans had a serpent, orcs have something worse.  
  62. Elves will make up the ranks of the Horsemen when the end of the world is nigh. They also speak the language of Chaos from NIER. They do not have souls.
  63. Dwarves speak Persian / Babylonian / Akkadian
  64. Orcs all have flowery descriptive titles and everything is double meanings and euphemisms.
  65. Places the Unnamed Monk has heard of that exist: the Kingdom of Prester John, Oz, Wonderland, the Nightlands, the Dreamlands, the Antipodes, Liliput, Brobdingnag, Laputa, Balnibarbi, Luggnagg, Glubbdubdrib, the land of the Houyhnhnms, Barsoom, and Tormance.

The Capitalism Monster

As adult or older dragon. Cannot fly, cannot move without great effort. Long sinuous neck, head like a bug-eyed reptilian vulture. Excessive corpulence provides protection instead of scales. Wallows in pool of knee-to-waist deep effluvia. Can bite at a distance due to neck, can claw and those close by, breath weapon shit-slurry containing the half-digested remains of artists and laborers. They gather weak-willed minions to their payroll by the horde.

Eats treasure and corpses. You get XP and schlorb when you feed it. Schlorb can...
  • be used as money (inflation means it's only taken by the gallon)
  • be used as food (barely nourishing, tastes just unpleasant enough that you'll swallow it)
  • restore health (not as effective as medical care or rest)
  • be used as a source of light and heat (burns dirty and inefficiently)
Schlorb is thick, oily, adipose-yellow in color, and mildly carcinogenic.

Items that would be used instead of schlorb  are rare to the point of treasure in regions where Capitalism Monsters have taken root.

Class: Atavist Druid

The savage men of the woods.

Gains 1 spell die per HD of animal sacrificed or dose of natural hallucinogenic consumed. Can hold max charges equal to WIS, but can only invoke up to level (max 4) per spell.

Perk: Advantage to resist disease.
Drawback: Must eat raw meat

  1. Speak with birds - Little dinosaur bastards...
  2. Excessive Fertility - Effective on plants and animals.
  3. Third Eye Open - Can see invisible objects, glyphs and wards, ghosts and spirits.
  4. Chakra Cleansing - Purge negative mental / spiritual effects, sans curses
  5. Seeking Knife - An enchanted knife will seek to break off in an enemy's heart.
  6. Eater of the Dead - Gain memories of recently deceased.
  7. Growth in Death - Grow a magical tree from a corpse.
  8. Summon the Unseen - Calls forth bacterial flora.
  9. Red in Tooth - You may bite as a sword.
  10. Destroy Lesser Laws - Destroys books and symbols
  11. Animal Shapechange - All it needs is the skin.
  12. Spirit Walk - Step your soul out of your meditating body.

Class: Sin Eater

Practitioner of the old and ancient school of maluphagy.

As cleric.
  • Seal of Confession - loses powers if any statement made or sin confessed is revealed to another party. Powers may be regained with appropriate appeal.
  • Heard it All Before - Familiar with a broad scope of the horrible, shocking, and deviant.
  • Cold Iron Stomach - You are immune to negative magical effects in your food.
Spell charges are gained through a symbolic meal. One hour of hearing confessions will provide 1d4 charges. May safely store charges equal to WIS. Can cast safely as many times equal to level per day, save vs magic for each further casting.

I don't have a spell list for this one.  Use whatever you like. I recommend Diabolism from Wonder & Wickedness.

Spell Failures
  1. Stored sins now count as encumbering items until next dawn.
  2. Burn all charges, summon a demon of equal HD.
  3. Start oozing hot, sticky, flammable tar.
  4. Crippling heart and stomach pains.
  5. Stunned by the immense wickedness of man.
  6. All that consumed bad karma hits you until the next dawn.
  7. Gain a horrifying, demonic countenance for a day.
  8. Terrible shakes, drop all items.

Found in the Great Abyss

  • Thermal Vents
  • Trenches
  • Whalefalls
  • Atlantis
  • Volcanic Ridges
  • Ghost Coral
  • False Suns
  • Lost Rivers
  • Red Worms
  • Hags
  • Trilobites
  • Bone Kings
  • Anglerfish
  • Light Shepherds
  • Benthic Sirens
  • Deep Ones 

Monk Stances

Treated as combinations of weapons and armor, take up equal encumbrance spots (treating this as Knave). Stance-specific special moves treated as additional spell. New stances must be discovered. Stances may use STR, DEX, or WIS as primary bonus.

Sunday, September 16, 2018

Gods of Man, Great Powers, Blessings

Stephanie Chan

The gods are created by man. This is a plain truth of the world, acknowledged by all. Their nature is human, their domains are the domains of humanity, they are inextricably linked to the hopes/fears/longings/beings of man.

There is no god of the sea, but there are a thousand gods of sailors.  Domains overlap, shift, are endlessly subdivided and rejoined. Time wears on; the gods change as man changes, but man is also shaped by the gods.

The Church, in common parlance, refers to the casual confederacy of religious traditions among most gods, barring the Lords of Hell and some fringe deities who do not play nice with others. You are all brothers and sisters, after all - even if you hate their guts, they're still family.

The domains listed below are not exhaustive in the slightest. Major gods can be guaranteed have regional variants in name, appearance, and domain. The primary divine family listed consists on those most widely agreed upon - certain traditions extend the children of Ama and Baba beyond the agreed-upon six. They will be marked with a (*) on the table.

The Gods of Man

Ama Adimatha, Mother of Multitudes

  • Mothers, wives, childbirth, fertility, protection, trickery

Baba Tubalkhan, All-Father

  • Craft, labor, patience, wise council, protection, fair judgement

DOG, the Greatest Friend

  • Loyalty, love, friendship, being a dog

Do-yo-da-no, the Twins

  • Emesh Diyu - Herding, hunting, fishing, tobacco smoking
  • Enten Daetgah - Farming, brewing, building, metallurgy

Nike, the Elder Sister

  • Achievement, athletics, sport, competition, sportsmanship

Calliope, the Younger Sister

  • Poetry, art, music, melodrama, theater, emotional highs and lows

The Stillborn

  • Loss, grief, mourning, mortality, empathy to the suffering of others   

Quisest, the Strangeling

  • The marginal, the stranger, the hidden, change, deviance

1) Abeona (*)Exploration, travel, leaving and returning home
2) AhuiateteoExcess, pleasure, gluttony, drunkenness
3) Aisling (*)Artists, dreams, inspiration, madness, imagination
4) AnachroniaBeing too late or too early; out of place and time
5) AnansiStorytelling trickster
6) AtzaliniStorytelling, friendship, hosts and cooks
7) Aza-ThothLibraries, secrets, hidden knowledge
8) AzadCraftmaster of the Néandr
9) Baron SamediGraves, smoking, drinking, obscenity
10) BluebeardThe killer you know, gory secrets
11) BokkaHumility, acceptance
12) BramblejohnPaths untaken, places returning to nature
13) BrendanSailors, whalers
14) Browning & ColtFirearms, gunpowder, explosives
15) BrukkitIdiot bravery, the dunning-kruger effect
16) CalibanMadness, eccentricity, rages, passions
17) Ceo-Coo-ExeInvestors, advertisers, marketers; Lord of Hell
18) Chain-BreakerEmancipation
19) CloacinaSewer systems, hygiene
20) CoprolaliaLies, libel, brags, smears, shit-talking
21) Crab-CrusherPaleolithic food-gatherer; context forgotten
22) CrocanaLazy afternoons; recreation, fishing
23) CthonJourneys into unknown places
24) DadaNonsense
25) Darvatius IConquest, empire, oppression; Lord of Hell
26) DhurumEndurance, laconism, straightforwardness
27) DordDensity, stupidity, being slow on the uptake
28) Double-TongueHypocrisy, liars, cheats, grifters
29) Dustfoot (*)Poverty, rock bottom, beggars, hobos, cripples
30) DyeuzTyrant-kings, rapists, abusive fathers
31) EbonikilCross-cultural exchange (food and art)
32) EkwensuBargains, trade, trickery
33) GaneshaThe placer and remover of obstacles
34) GordianosPuzzles, brute force solutions
35) Goth-AmokRebellion, catharsis, chaotic noise
36) GuanyinMercy, compassion
37) HachimanAgriculture, warfare; conscripted soldiers
38) Hain (*)Rhetoric, logic, scholarship, natural science
39) Hammu-Amun (*)Law, order, the written word, kings
40) HasturShepherds, the Lake of Hali, the city Carcosa
41) HestiaHospitality, hearth and home
42) Hi'iakaGolden Goddess of Pa'O Pa'O
43) HoteiGregariousness, good cheer, abundance
44) IndahontenTeachers, mentors, bookmakers, writers
45) JabimBroken things, repaired things
46) JanusBeginnings, doorways, endings
47) KentMundane life, ordinary folk, small acts of kindness
48) Know-NothingMalignant ignorance
49) Limpang-TungMirth, melodies, minstrels
50) LlaroDrums, pipes, song-writers, bards
51) Lu BanBuilders, carpenters, construction workers
52) MammonGreed, gold, coin, corruption; Lord of Hell
53) MaraAttachment, passion
54) Maya DiogenesCynics, swordmasters, noodle-makers
55) MenhitMindless violence; "she who massacres"
56) MithrasMystery-cult
57) Mmou-ShaubSlothfulness, restful sleep, patience
58) Moloch'Who Rapes the World"; Great Lord of Hell
59) MungDeath, silence, secret signs
60) NeirnnenThe socially inept and ostracized
61) NodounForgetting the needed; remembering the trivial
62) OannesEsoteric wisdom; kinship with Deep Folk
63) Old Jim BrookHard times, necessity and invention
64) Old ScratchCorruption, temptation, cutting bad deals
65) OnanVictims of disproportionate punishment
66) Orang-UtanApe-god
67) OxomocoAstronomy, calendars, study of the stars
68) OxossiHunting, contemplation, meals, crafts
69) Pan-PongoApe-god
70) Papa LegbaCrossroads, communication
71) Phobos & DeimosFear and terror
72) PikanpeExuberance, free-spirits, excitement, expectation
73) Postmaster FennicMail and the postal service
74) Pyrrhus Gradivus (*)Soldiers, veterans, scars of mind and body
75) PythagorasMathematics, triangles, sacred geometry
76) Red-CapAnarchy, tearing down the powerful
77) RokeshSwift and decisive victory, forward with speed
78) SapphoHomosexual women
79) Shi Yang (*)Pirates, sailors, prostitutes, fishermen, trade
80) Ta'xet & TiaViolent death, peaceful death
81) Temazcalteci Steam baths, doctors
82) Temu SchannSecrets we cannot utter, dark places in the heart
83) The Forge BaronIndustry, enslavement; Lord of Hell
84) The Sable MaidProtection of the weak
85) The Tolling, TicitokThe measuring and loss of time
86) The WormWar unending; Lord of Hell
87) TlazolteotlFilth and purification, usually sexual
88) Tūmatauenga Hunting, fishing, cultivation, war, cooking
89) TurusPrisoners of mind and body
90) Uastyrdzhi Monster-slaying, traveling, oath-keeping
91) VellamoFishermen of the lakes and rivers; water travel
92) VennJournalists, muckrackers, activists
93) Whiskey JackBartenders, alcoholics
94) XochipiliHomosexual men
95) YamaDeath, justice, moral ethics
96) YhewenVengeance, war, jealousy
97) ZangobatNecromancers, gravediggers, bonesetters
98) Zanni (*)Fools, comedy truth, nostalgia, fernweh
99) ZorkoIneffectual, comedic villainy

Great Powers Among the Folk

These are those whose names are known far and wide.
  • Akerbeltz - The Black Billy Goat. Consorts with witches, gives questionable advice.
  • Ao Akupara Zaratan - The Great Turtle, has lived in this form longer than anything else.
  • Bast - Queen of All Cats
  • Br'er Rabbit - Trickster in the East.
  • Cernunnos - The Horned One, the Wild Man, the Big-Foot
  • Coyote - Trickster in the West.
  • The Four Goblin Kings - Masters of music and dance, missing now and foretold to return.
  • The Four High Courts of the Álfar.
  • La Fata Turchina - Blue-haired collector of puppets. Fascinated by the art of parentage.
  • La Fée Verte - Intoxicating muse of wormwood and anise.
  • Mab - The Midwife of Dreams. 
  • The Mountain King - King of the Dwarves, host of the great Feasting Hall.
  • Mundo - Magnificent Mundo, silky bastard!
  • Orca - Lady Leviathan, Queen of the Northern Seas
  • Pan - The Black Goat, bringer and embodiment of chaos and madness
  • Pangur Bán - The White Cat, the lurker in libraries.
  • Pele - Flying Fire, Queen of the Burning Mountain
  • Raven - Trickster in the North, creator, thief of the sun, an old friend of Mother.
  • Rainbow Serpent - Shaper of the world, bringer of the rains.


Making an appropriate offering at the shrine of a god or fulfilling their rites will grant a bonus until sunset for rolls within their domain. For general OSR games, just use Bless. Use a Boon if it's Shadow of the Demon Lord.

Shrines can be found just about anywhere (dungeons will be loaded with them) and you could raise your own without much trouble (especially if you have a priest).

Friday, September 14, 2018

The Magnus Archives Post

A while ago I purchased Emmy Allen's Esoteric Enterprises, and that is as good an excuse as any to finally do this big post on the Magnus Archives that I've been meaning to do.

(For those who haven't heard me rave about it yet, The Magnus Archives is a horror serial podcast that I will give a double gold star recommendation to anyone and everyone even remotely interested in that sort of thing. It's remained engaging for well over a hundred episodes, the metaplot is rock-solid, there's a planned ending - by those metrics it's top percentile in that genre before you even start listening. Go check it out.)

I'll be doing this post in two parts: the first will be a big table of creepy things from the series that you can plug in to your games whenever you need a bit of creep. Part 2 will be after the break and contain some spoilers about the series' connective tissue, and how that can be used as building blocks in games.

50 Entries from the Archives

  1. "There is a wasps' nest in my attic..."
  2. A cheap wooden coffin, chained and padlocked. 'Do Not Open' is scratched into the lid.
  3. The man upstairs is hammering away at the walls, and the smell is getting worse.
  4. A woman in a red dress wanders the suburbs at night with a syringe full of worms.
  5. Exorcist-turned-cannibal, serving a double life sentence. Declined the interview.
  6. Grifter's Bone, the band so bad they need to sneak into shows.
  7. There is something at the foot of the bed.
  8. A pale man in an alleyway, asking for a cigarette. He bobs a foot off the ground.
  9. Homeless man trades in heroin for vampire-hunting.
  10. Two sisters gone missing in Lost Johns' Cave.
  11. Need something delivered, taken or broke? Call the two Cockney fellas at Breekon & Hope.
  12. "As I was going up the stair, I met a man who wasn't there."
  13. "Enjoy sky blue" the old man said, as he threw himself from the plane.
  14. A plaque on the calliope organ: "Be still, for there is strange music."
  15. Mr. Pitch has come to take us all away to Ny-Ålesund. It's been 300 years' wait.
  16. 41 hearts in a garden shed, all a-glowing blue.
  17. Death remains a fan of games.  
  18. Billboard advertisement: "Sleep is overrated."
  19. Some of the men hear a distant piping. They climb over the trench and never return. 
  20. The crew of the Tundra has not changed in 10 years, all the cargo's rusted in place.
  21. Ivy Meadows Care Home has burnt down, and that is for the best. They'd taken ill, you see...
  22. Those tunnels had always been underneath the place, no one noticed them until now.
  23. The tiger isn't finished yet.
  24. The lights keep going out, the taps keep running brackish.
  25. There's a house on Hilltop Road, it pulls you in and reels you back.
  26. Hot item of the hour: a Carthaginian gorilla skin
  27. Spiders pour out of the wound.
  28. "Come meat, by my guest, and let thy gifts to me be blessed."
  29. Raising the spirits of the dead to commit bank fraud.
  30. The mummy plunges the knife into its own chest.
  31. Seventeen hours of UshankasDespair.exe
  32. There's a pit in the middle of town, they walk down into it.
  33. An old copy of The Boneturner's Tale, from the library of Jurgen Leitner.
  34. She orders a coffee every day, but never seems to drink it.
  35. Private Amherst is such a restless man, let not the gangrene stop him.
  36. DIG down, DIG down...
  37. A pile of Bibles, a pile of tea cups, a pile of severed fingers.
  38. An old man who knows just enough to be wrong.
  39. Mr. Spider loves guests, but only when they are polite.
  40. The police have killed five vampires in the last nine years.
  41. Everyone dumps their trash on old Maggie's property. Go deliver some food to her, will you?
  42. Self-immolation, in front of her own girlfriend.
  43. When threatened with death, give them a job instead.
  44. The mold 'round the drain can't be scrubbed away.
  45. A cave stacked deep with the corpses of soldiers.
  46. Black sand pours from his mouth.
  47. Eventually, they buried the monstrous pig in concrete.
  48. The Mechanical Turk drove a sword into the chessboard, and then began to dance.
  49. A pot that steals from the world.
  50. Privately-funded space-isolation experiment.

Sunday, September 9, 2018

Super Smash Classics!

Everyone is here!
I recently discovered (and then ran a session of) Judge James' Disney Crawl Classics. I loved the idea of backgrounds-as-characters, so here's my take on it, which conveniently fulfills a secondary purpose of fulfilling a lot of accumulated "what if X was in Smash".

All those indie games ported to the Switch really helped matters.

A Challenger Approaches!Trained WeaponTrade Good
1) MarioHammer (d6)Weird Mushroom
2) Donkey KongFist (d8)Bongos
3) LinkSword (d8)Glider
4) SamusCharge Shot (d6)Grapple Beam
5) YoshiEgg (d4)Annoying Baby
6) KirbyInhale (I)Strawberry Cake
7) FoxBlaster (d6)Reflector
8) PikachuThunderbolt (d6)Lucha Mask
9) LuigiVacuum Cleaner (II)Captured Ghost
10) NessBaseball Bat (d6)Yo-yo
11) Captain FalconFalcon Punch (d6)Racing trophy
12) JigglypuffMicrophone (d3)Permanent Marker
13) PeachUmbrella (d4)Basket of Radishes
14) BowserClaw (d8)Snazzy Tuxedo
15) Ice ClimbersMallet (d6)Comfy Parka
16) SheikThrowing Needles (d4)Smoke Bomb x3
17) ZeldaLight Arrows (d8)Shekiah Slate
18) Dr. MarioScalpel (d4)Bottle of Pills
19) PichuShock (d4)Stylish Goggles
20) FalcoBlaster (d6)Injured Pride
21) MarthRapier (d6)Wedding Dress
22) Young LinkShortsword (d6)Ocarina
23) GanondorfSword (d10)Horse
24) MewtwoPsychic Crush (d6)Dark Pokeball
25) RoySword (d8)Spare Bandana
26) Mr. Game & WatchHammer (d6)Juggling Balls
27) Meta KnightBarbed Sword (d8)Shadowy Cloak
28) PitBow (d6)Eggplant
29) Zero Suit SamusStunner (III)Hi-Jump Boots
30) WarioPipe (d6)Bag of Garlic
31) SnakeSilenced Pistol (d8)Cardboard Box
32) IkeGreatsword (d10)Tattered Cape
33) Pokemon TrainerThe Team (IV)Rare Candy
34) Diddy KongPeanut Popgun (d6)Jump-Pack x3
35) LucasPK Spark (d6)Snake Whip
36) SonicSpindash (d4)Chili Dog
37) King DededeGreathammer (d10)Waddle-dee x3
38) OlimarPikmin (V)Whistle
39) LucarioAura Punch (d6)Focus Sash
40) R.O.B.Laser Eye (d8)Hover Jets
41) Toon LinkShortsword (d6)Chu Jelly
42) WolfClaw (d4)Scouter
43) VillagerAxe (d6)Butterfly Net
44) Mega ManMega Buster (d4)Energy Tank
45) Wii Fit TrainerYoga (d6)Granola & Yogurt
46) RosalinaWand (d4)Luma follower
49) Little MacBoxing Gloves (d6)Water Bottle
50) GreninjaAqua Jet (d6)Mystic Water
51) Mii FighterGeneric Weapon (d6)Strange Face
52) PalutenaStaff (d4)Mirrored Shield
53) PAC-MANFist (d3)Power Pill x1
54) RobinSword (d8)Book of Magic Lore
55) ShulkMonado (d10)She-Hulk Comic
56) Bowser JrBomb (d10)Propeller Chair
57) Duck Hunt DogBite (d6)Brace of ducks
58) RyuFists (d8)Duffel Bag
59) CloudBuster Sword (d10)Pretty Dress
60) CorrinSword (d8)Fire Paper
61) BayonettaPSR&T (d8)Lollipop Stash
62) InklingSplatgun (d6)Paintbucket
63) RidleyClaw (d10)Metroid in a Jar
64) Simon BelmontWhip (d6)Holy Water
65) King K. RoolCannon (d10)Stolen Bananas
66) Dixie KongElectric Guitar (d6)Glider Ponytail
67) Shovel KnightShovel (d8)Fishing Rod
68) SolaireLightning Spear (d8)Estus Flask
69) BlobespierreTwin Daggers (d4)Spider Rune
70) The KnightNail (d6)Dreamnail
71) ReynauldGreatsword (d10)Battle Standard
72) Wonder RedUnite Hand (d8)Unsold Game Disks
73) GuzmaFist (d3)Sunglasses
74) Monster HunterInsect Glaive (d8)Nullberry
75) Travis TouchdownBeam Katana (d8)Body Pillow
76) TerraRapier (d6)Ether Potion
77) NekuAttack Pin (d4)Fashionable Outfit
78) CadenceShovel (d8)Heavy Gloves
79) IsaacKitchen Knife (d4)Guppy's Corpse
80) LinkleCrossbow (d6)Golden Butterfly
81) ImpaGiant Sword (d10)Silk Rope 50'
82) The KidHammer (d8)Bull Brandy
83) AmaterasuSolar Disk (d8)Fertile Feet
84) IsabelleAccount Book (d3)Pot of Coffee
85) MidnaShadow Hand (d6)Cool Helmet
86) ChronoSword (d8)Hair Gel
87) ShanoaSpear (d8)Back Tattoo
88) Chun-LiMighty Thews (d8)INTERPOL Badge
89) TingleSack of Rupees (d3)Balloon
90) UrbosaScimitar (d8)Thunder Helmet
91) Prince SidonTrident (d8)Fish Stew
92) Dark SamusPhazon Blast (d10)Ingling Servant
93) RookAxe (d6)Token from Odd
94) H'aanitBow (d6)Snow Leopard
95) Captain ToadShroom Cutter (d3)Headlamp
96) Rabbid PeachBlaster (d6)Smart Phone
97) Shield KnightShield (d6, +1 AC)Cursed Amulet
98) AshleyWand (d4)Creepy Stuffed Bear
99) Doom SlayerShotgun (d12)Action Figure
100) WaluigiTennis Racket (d4)Mustache Wax

(I)Successful attack roll gains you the target's weapon.
(II) No damage, but can immobilize an enemy smaller than you.
(III) Target must make FORT save or be stunned for a turn. Always does 1 damage.
(IV) Squirtle (d6), Ivysaur (d6), and Charizard (d8) - one out at a time, takes turn to switch.
(V) Damage die is randomly selected per attack. d4 (1-3) d6 (4-6) d8 (7-9) d10 (10)

Sunday, September 2, 2018

Play Report: I Come From the Land of the Ice and Snow (Danscape ep. 3)

Previously, on the Danscape: A cult is joined and a war is inadvertently accelerated.

Tonight's episode stars the original crew from the Kadesh Club:
  • Waterblossom, eladrin magelander nee organ farm escapee (Michael K)
  • Blake, a face-stealing traveler and former gigolo (FM Geist)
  • Gavel, a traveler who just oozes everywhere. (Martin O)
With Waterblossom returned from the cult retreat house (head full of mindworm knowledge) and Gavel and Blake returning from the mother of all drug benders (heads full of drugs and drug accessories), the trio of the Divided Survival Power return once again to Lady Sidris' station.

Outside, the Aboleth has been raising dead and disrupting travel all throughout this corner of the cosmos. It seems dead-set on attacking and destroying old mindworm facilities and stations - a lucky break for everyone else, at least those not mind-slaved and zombified in its war effort.

From this chaos Blake receives a message from Salamander Lady. She has made quantum leaps up the social structure in the fashion world and has been utilizing her newfound wealth in philanthropic charity efforts to aid those fleeing the aboleth's warpath. As part of this, she has a task for the trio: retrieve a mindworm weapon from the old war, tucked away on a frozen shithole of a planet.

To aid the group, she provides the group with survival supplies and a cloning chamber for the ship. After some discussion they decide to clone Gavel's spell tumor and head off towards the Devoured Planet (because I just got Frostbitten and Mutilated and wanted to try it out.) Their target is an ancient tower of mindworm make.

What follows is a terrible trek up a frozen river, across wind-blasted icy hellscape. Gavel plays the world's worst game of I-Spy. Further incidents as follows.
1. Blake steals the severed head of an alien goat off the desecrated statue of an ancient king. He tries talking to it multiple times throughout the adventure.

2. An island in the river is revealed to be a giant bone sticking out of a mound of fatty flesh. Blake steals samples for potential cloning, and grabs a magical charm-shard to boot.

3. Crossing the river, the group sees a bluff with a gigantic monolith. At the base, a herd of boars: two large males, some females, and a bunch of boarlets. A standoff occurs, and turns to violence.

3a. Blake is gored with a critical hit while trying to stab his boar in its blind eye. He miraculously survives and manages to put a plasma bolt through its head. The boar's death throes drop Blake below 0, leaving him with a damaged eye (according to Emmy Allen's Horrible Wounds)

3b. Waterblossom attempts to stun the boars with Washington's Laugh. Both resist the merriment, but their teeth are turned to wood.

3c. Gavel realizes too late that he forgot to calibrate the rail-rifle that had been bolted onto his hover chair. Waterblossom offs the other boar by launching a selachian torpedo via Moses' Shark.

4. The boars defeated, the crew converse for a moment as to whether or not they should loot the grave goods buried beneath the monolith and potentially clone one of the ancient warriors. They decide against it. Blake fashions a boarhide eyepatch.

5. An hour's pause is made to avoid a trio of amazons passing by on wolfback.

6. The crew enters a forest near nightfall. With wolves howling in the distance, the crew takes shelter in a nearby cottage, which contains a young girl who is remarkably non-plussed by the fact that wolves killed her parents.

7. Blake climbs up to the roof through the chimney and takes potshots at the wolves for a while after sundown. The rest get fitful sleep as the wolves prowl and howl just outside.

8. Come morning, the trio head out. Girl (for that is what her parents called her) is renamed Lantern-Boy by Blake ("Oh hurrah, I am overjoyed, clearly this is not a portent of awful things to come." and given a lantern.

9. The tower is reached. The group enter and are swiftly separated in the darkness.

10. Blake glimpses a confused Donson the golem in the gloom, but rushes to aid the friend crying out in the darkness. Waterblossom likewise avoids temptation. Gavel beats the shit out of a little troll thing with a monomolecular greatsword. Eventually they all meet up with Lantern-Boy in the central chamber.

11. In the final chamber, they see mounds of treasure, an ancient mindworm crone, and the weapon. Blake is volunteered by Gavel and Lantern-Boy to partake in the challenge.

12. Blake attempts to seduce the amazon he is to fight with. She says 'after we fight'. Blake successfully grapples her, knocks her axe away, and puts a plasma bolt directly through her skull, tragically cutting many hopes and dreams short.

13. Blake and Waterblossom are granted vials of holy water by the crone. Gavel is transformed into a space wolf. The ship is called in, the weapon is retrieved, and there is great wonder about whether or not they should even bother breaking Gavel's curse, because now they can load up a space wolf with spell tumors. Blake sells boarmeat for a decent price and makes fancy leathers out of it.

Even as a space wolf, Gavel is able to smoke space opium.

I love this group.

Beloch's Questions

  1. The wolves of the Devoured Planet have become Blake's major rivals. That his close friend and drug buddy is now a wolf is deeply traumatizing.
  2. They managed to get to the tower without attracting the attention of the amazons. This may or may not last.
  3. Lantern-Boy is benefiting for the moment. Her future remains uncertain, but she is currently not being eaten by wolves.
  4. No major NPC deaths.
  5. News of the weapon's successful recovery was passed on to Salamander Lady, which means it will become major news in the near future.
  6. See above: as soon as this hits newstands, people will be having opinions. Mostly positive, considering what the aboleth is doing.
  7. Gavel's wolf-curse  and whether or not it will be broken; Blake's hatred of wolves and trauma over killing the one woman horrible enough to understand him, plus fixing up his gaping chest wound.

Monday, August 27, 2018

Some Thoughts on the Lamentations 2 Playtest and Knave

Lamentations 2

I don't hate it. I've heard plenty of grumblings about it so far, but I don't hate it.

I'm fine with having nearly everything be bundled into attributes. I'm fine with the change to saves. I'm fine with weapons all being one die. I'm okay with all that to some extent. But I have a pressing question:

Why are there still classes?

With clerics and demihumans gone, only fighters, specialists, and magic-users remain. With VAM/EC magic in place, the only actual difference between these classes is whether they get +1 attack bonus, +2 skill points, or +1 spell slot when they level up. That's it. Daniel Sell's scoundrel class allows people to pick one of those three very things, my traveler class is much the same, except clumsier, Maze Rats is built around that system, and I don't see why that shouldn't be the default method. You could go straight down the line in either of the three ways, but if that's the only differentiation, go classless.

When looked at that way, as the baseline for a classless OSR game, I go from not hating the rules to actually kinda digging them. The ease of class creation was a major part of what brought me to the OSR / DIY scene to begin with, sure, but a big list of backgrounds a la DCC is just as good. In terms of avoiding confusion and choice paralysis among new players, even better.

Luke Thompson's recent posts on adapting the playtest rules for space have me very excited to see where that line of thought leads, as well. I never much liked classes in space.


Moving from "should probably be classless" to "actually is classless", we've got Knave. Mechanically, it's a lot more tweaks to the formula than a complete reworking.

 I'm picking up some Shadow of the Demon Lord influences (always a plus) with how stats and modifiers are determined (modifiers are stat - 10, for example. Stats are lowest of 3d6 + 10) and with how there is a standardized roll-to-beat (15 rather than 10, in this case). Advantage and disadvantage rather than boons and banes, but hey, that's cool too. Could add boons and banes easily enough.

Everything here is based around managing your inventory slots (which are just "equal to your strength", which I like far more than LotFP's encumbrance points). No skill system, but it doesn't need one (again, a big old background list is just waiting to be used.)

Some interesting diversions from tradition in which stats apply to what: ranged weapons are now effected by WIS, pickpocketing is INT.

Level-less spells, also a good move and good call.

Grand props given for adding even more good tables to use with those found in Maze Rats, and for making it Creative Commons.

No one has yet adapted it to space. This shall be remedied by some party in due time.

Extra thoughts

You know how Camus said that we must imagine Sisyphus to be happy? Apply that to fiddling around with RPG systems for me. Doesn't matter that there's no destination, the constant pursuit of just right is fine enough for me. House rules are like shoggoths: amorphous and perpetually mutating, always on the hunt for new genetic material to assimilate. Good stuff to be had here to that end.

I've got a RL game night upcoming and I heard some whispers that Star Wars was a hit when I last ran it. Perhaps I will test out Luke's hack with that...

Saturday, August 25, 2018

Taking a Look at Video Game Megadungeons

I've been returning to some of my favorite video games recently, and surprising no one there's a lot of dungeon-delving involved. So here's a comparison of maps for those who want to sneakily stock a large dungeon that's already set up.

Darkest Dungeon

Starting with the simplest here. This is the megadungeon by means of just having multiple separate dungeons in the same general area. There aren't any real connections between areas in the game as-is (a situation easily rectified in adaptation) which brings with it the core gameplay loop of returning to the Hamlet after every delve, no matter where you choose.

Enter the Gungeon

Straightforward, the Gungeon is. Town on top, five main chambers beneath, three secret levels with access requirements, and a hidden sixth level for masochists. No major choices, no loops, no crossing paths.

Bonus points for the end goal: find the Gun That Kills The Past. Perfect for setting up a bit of character drama. no one comes to the Gungeon without some ghosts in the closet.

The Binding of Isaac

Still pretty simple stuff: two columns that you can cross between with a fork at the bottom. The  weirdness between floors four and five turned out nicely symmetrical, and provides the main real choice in the delve: Spend time and resources fighting the Hush in ???, or skip ahead to the fork? Cathedral or Sheol?

The b-series levels are taken from the Antibirth mod, on the grounds that it's better than Afterbirth+. They all have entry requirements, so you might be able to get into one of them and then kicked back into the main column when you clear that level.

Nuclear Throne

Again, pretty linear design. The main shifts from the norm are the Crown Vault and IDPD HQ, both of which can be accessed from any other level (the latter is only accessible after the game has been looped), and the fact that you can loop yourself back to the beginning after defeating the Throne.

Dead Cells

With all that out of the way, it's time for the good shit. Forking paths, multiple paths, paths that meet back up, a layout that maps itself to a real space way easier than the others on this list. (Prison on an island, town on the coast with a clocktower, castle on the hill above). Notable on this list in that it is primarily lateral in layout rather than vertical.

Hollow Knight

I lied, this is the good shit. A tangled, interconnected mess of tunnels and caverns to wander through. The occasional friendly face or traveling merchant. Stag stations to unlock and make inter-area transit easier. Lots of optional areas completely separate from the critical path. Absurdly complex, lots of effort required to translate to tabletop, but worth it if it can be managed.

Final Thoughts

  • I would be most likely to adapt the Dead Cells or Darkest Dungeon maps.
  • The "single descending column" format seems to be pretty standard for roguelites.
  • Dark Souls 1 goes without mentioning, which is why I did not mention it.
  • Darkest Dungeon as megadungeon is the easiest to throw together by far.
  • Mark Brown's Boss Keys series is a super-good and far more in-depth look into video game dungeon design. Season 1 is Zelda, Season 2 is Metroid.
  • Hollow Knight is so good, people.