Monday, October 29, 2018

Horrible Beautiful Wonder: Gods and Dreams

So I recently bought Call of Cthulhu 7th Edition and have been on a bit of a Lovecraft kick. Specifically an "un-Lovecrafted Lovecraft" kick, as I am a lover of that weird little subgenre. (My previous post is evidence enough of that. I do still need to get around to reading The Ballad of Black Tom and Winter Tide.)

So here we go.

General Setting Notions

  • Early modern accounts of the Mythos were heavily skewed according to the recorders' racial and cultural biases and are not properly indicative of the reality.
  • The existence of the Mythos is common knowledge and has been for most of the last century. Knowledge prior to the modern period was scattered and  even more incomplete.
  • Sorcerers and those who understand how magic works are rare.
  • Earth sits at a hyperspatial junction point, which at one time made it a common stopping point for interstellar empires and a popular pilgrimage destination for the Great Old Ones. With the passing of ages, the collapse of empires, and the shifting of hyperspace currents, it has been reduced to a backwater in the outer reaches of Mi-Go territory, inhabited by those who are unable to leave for brighter and better places. It's Cosmic Rust Belt.

The Outer Gods

The exact number and nature of the Outer Gods is contested. The most common structure used in modern Mythos faiths is the trinitarian model, as follows:
  • Azathoth (Azoth, Thoth, Ein Sof) - Primordial creative force. Centerpoint of the cosmos.
  • Yog-Sothoth ('Umr at-Tawil, Kefitzat Haderech, Tay al-Ard) - Time, space, physical laws.
  • Shub-Niggurath (Pan, Magna Mater) - Life, death, growth, violence, biological imperative.
There is further contention over whether the Servitors of the Outer Gods are spawn of these gods, a pre-existing species that has joined or been pressed into their service, or constructs. Manifestations of the Outer Gods are extremely rare (making comparison difficult) and only confirmed spawn seen on Earth are the Dark Young of Shub-Niggurath.

The Crawling Chaos (referred to by occultists as Isfethotep) is considered the soul, messenger, and nightmare of the Outer Gods. It regularly invests itself within the affairs of the lesser inhabitants of the universe, for reasons unknown and towards outcomes mostly negative. The Crawling Chaos has been recorded taking thousands of different manifestations, to the point of working at cross-purposes. It has been seen within the Dreamlands.

Hastur remains resistant to study.

Peoples of the Mythos

Each species listed here is given a "Human Interaction Rating"
  • + = Positive interaction is possible
  • * = Interaction is unlikely, unsought, impossible, or otherwise rare
  • X = Negative interaction likely.

SpeciesHIRGreat Old OneOriginNotes
Humans+Y'golonac (*)Earth (Human)Very young primate species. Capable of entering the Dreamlands.
Deep Ones+Dagon & Hydra (*)Earth (Cambrian)Genetic chimeras. Mixed relations with humanity.
Ghouls+N/AEarth (Human-Derived)Undead carnivore-scavengers. Generally retain memories of life prior to change.
Ghasts*N/AEarth (Hominid)Ape-equivalent intelligence. Some varieties domesticated by K'n-Yani.
K'n-Yani+N/AEarth (Human)Subterranean North American people. Well-versed in occult science.
Mi-Go+N/AAlien Possess interstellar empire. Will trade technology for rare minerals. Brain canisters.
Tcho-Tcho+N/AEarth (Human)Human worshipers of Chaugnar Faugn. Cannibalistic funeral rites.
Elder Things+N/AAlienCollapsed interstellar empire. Few remain on Earth. Status of colony worlds unknown.
Serpent PeopleXYigEarth (Carboniferous)Minor Mesozoic empire concurrent with Mi-Go, Yithians, Star Spawn.
Voormis*N/AEarth (Hominid)Extinct(?) Hyperboreans. Worshiped Tsathoggua. Enemies of Gnoph-Keh.
Yithans+N/AAlien (Mind), Earth (Body)Cross-time information trade. Potential for tech and bio samples stored in stasis.
Flying PolypsXGhatanothoa (?)Alien Trapped in subterranean prison-cities. Few remain. Contact unsuccessful.
Star Spawn*CthulhuAlienCurrently in stasis beneath R'lyeh with their patron.
Fire VampiresXCthughaAlienNo communication yet made, but Great Old One indicates intelligence of some sort.
CthoniansXShudde M'ell???Most pressing danger to Earth life at this point in time.
Sand Dwellers*N/AEarth (Hominid)Incredibly good at staying hidden: no real information available.
ShoggothXUbbo-SathlaEarth (Proterozoic)Some have been re-domesticated by Deep Ones. Shoggoth Lords have plans.
Spiders of Leng*Atlach-NachaDreamlandsOccasional conflict with Tcho-Tcho on Leng margins.
Formless Spawn*TsathogguaCreated by Patron (?)Uncertain as to whether it is the originating species or an attempt at recreation.
Nightgaunt*Yibb-TstllDreamlandsAppear occasionally in the waking world. Non-communicative. Means of transport.
Rat-Thing+N/AEarth (Occult)Initially created by sorcerous means, now a self-sustained population.
Gnoph-KehXIthaqua (?)Earth (?) Hominid (?)Dying race. Global warming accelerating the process. Not happy.
ShanXN/AAlienBrain parasites fleeing destruction of homeworld. Possible client or rival of the Mi-Go.
Miri Nigri*N/AEarth (Human-Derived)Failed attempt at adoption of humans by Chaugnar Faugn. Extinct (?)
Cats+BastEarthCan easily access the Dreamlands. Human domestication project on schedule.

* - These entities are in the process of ascent to Great Old One.
? - These entities have not been conclusively linked to the listed species

The Great Old Ones

A Great Old One is a priest of the Outer Gods. (Whether an ascendant individual of a species or born of the collected consciousness, scholars are uncertain)

Earth is unusual in both the number of Great Old Ones present there (It is hypothesized that the hyperspace disruption that cut off most exit routes was very sudden, stranding them on the planet), and the number of orphaned Old Ones i.e. those that do not have an attendant species. Orphan Old Ones will generally attempt to adopt a new species as their servants or create new ones. Their original species are presumed to be extinct, having died off either in obscurity on Earth, or elsewhere in the cosmos.

Known orphan Old Ones include:
  • Tsathoggua - Attempted to recreate its species through Formless Spawn and adopt the Voormis.
  • Chaugnar Faugn - Has attempted and failed to adopt the Miri Nigri and Tcho-Tcho.
  • Eihort - Seeks humans as incubators for spawn, is at least partially successful.
  • Glaaki - Servants zombified by its spines rarely survive more than a few decades.
Among modern religious practices, Cthulhu, Tsathoggua, and Chaugnar Faugn are the most commonly revered Old Ones among humans. The ongoing apparent ascendance of Y'golonac is a matter of great concern among practical metaphysicians, considering the being's legendary cruelty and the power it will gain over the species as it achieves its mantle of priesthood.

The Dreamlands

A matter of great curiosity among scholars for the following points.
  • It seems that humanity (and their house cats and derivatives) are among some of the only creatures in the known cosmos capable of entering this realm. Aliens such as the Mi-Go and Elder Things are never seen there.
  • Even though the Great Old Ones communicate primarily through dreams, they and their attendant species are never seen within it. It has been hypothesized that Old Ones possess their own dreamscapes, and then may send message rippling across the "surface" of the Dreamlands to their chosen targets.
  • Surprisingly comprehensible manifestations of the Crawling Chaos have been witnessed.
  • Other planets possess their own Dreamlands, travel between them is possible.
  • It is possible for a human mind to emigrate to the Dreamlands, leaving their body dead.
  • Two Old Ones and their attendant species have been found in the Dreamlands. How they got there and whether they are natives of the Dreamlands or the Waking World is undetermined.
Esoteric institutes around the world are offering massive stipends for skilled dreamers to act as researchers.

Where We Are Now

The human response to their new place in the universe is a fractured one (surprising no one), but an understandable one. It has been very, very human.

The reactionary wave that grew in the wake of the Mythos still has the world in its death grip. The repressions have been ugly, but it is becoming more and more clear that the current cannot be fought against. Change will upseat the old orders, and none to soon: the mistakes of the twentieth century have been repeated in the twenty-first, the Mythos often just an excuse to act upon old hates.

One would be tempted to think of the zeitgeist as one of despair, but it has become one of humility. Humanity has been put in its place in the universe, and for those who can withstand the pain of having all your egoist assumptions torn away, there is a certain peace of mind to be found. The world is not about us. For those who realize it (there are too few who do, but the ranks keep growing) the Great Old Ones have freed mankind from our self-imposed myopia. It is not as some of the old cults said, that humans would be made above good and evil, but it is instead a moment of clarity of our place in the universe and our relations with others.

Friday, October 26, 2018

Tables of Cultural Traits


I just finished up reading all of Le Guin's Hainish stories. It's certainly not every day that you come away from a series feeling like a better person, but this was one of them. They are beautiful and potent and terribly human, and they invoke in me the great peace of humility - I am not the center of the universe, countless people are going about fulfilling lives as alien to me as mine to them, and there is a goodness and rightness in this.

(If you haven't read them yet, see if you can track down the American Library omnibus. Otherwise, I advise Left Hand of Darkness, The Dispossessed, Five Ways to Forgiveness, and The Telling.)

So to that end, I'm merging a great deal from Daniel Sell's post on planar cultures with the cultural ways of Albion's Seed, to create something that should hopefully be an easy way to add cultural variety and depth to your settings and characters. Traits here were plucked both from real life groups and whatever else came to mind.

Now using Angus Warman's HTML generator! (Via Saker Tarsos helping fix technical difficulties in Discord)

0. Appearence

For the tables below, roll 3d25 (or choose however) to select your tables, roll on those as appropriate (they're all d6) and use that as the basis for your culture. If you want a little bit extra for those people, roll 1d3 times (or choose, or roll however many times you want) on Skerples' list of mutations.

This was made to go with my Traveler class.

1. Speech

  1. Peppered with references to assorted, often obscure heroic myth-cycles.
  2. Euphemistic lexicon elides the unpleasant, violent, scandalous and sexual.
  3. The meanings of words change between sung verse and prose vernacular. 
  4. Simple and straightforward; blunt-force metaphors and workmanlike prose.
  5. Burns with passionate, unrefined emotion; often translated as vulgarity.
  6. Has accumulated dozens of languages, constantly mutating new variants.

2. Building

  1. Faces of homes decorated with mosaics of monsters to scare away evil spirits.
  2. Permanent homes are built underground, only temporary structures on the surface.
  3. Old buildings are always repurposed and added on to if they can be salvaged.
  4. Homes are treated as living beings with rights under the law.
  5. Doors are shaped as mouths, windows as eyes, interior rooms as organs.
  6. Natural features (caves, trees, boulders, water) are incorporated into the structure.

3. Family

  1. A visitor welcomed three times may be considered family.
  2. Multiple generations and branches will live in the same home or neighborhood.
  3. Families consist only of related women; men are independent from these obligations.
  4. Honor of the familial name must be protected with blood if needed.
  5. Children are no longer considered part of their birth family upon reaching adulthood.
  6. The obligations of filial piety are ended only in death.

4. Marriage

  1. Exclusively between land-owning men.Women and unlanded men are not permitted.
  2. Not practiced. Periods of agreed exclusivity symbolized by a fig bough over the door.
  3. Large group marriages; stable sub-groups form according to individual alignments.
  4. Elaborate divorce rituals developed to get around strict legal-religious bindings.
  5. Organized by trained matchmakers according to tarot archetypes.
  6. Ceremony is comedic theater performed for the community.

5. Gender

  1. Primary genders are submissive / dominant, regardless of sex.
  2. Most individuals shift gender identity multiple times in their life. 
  3. Men should be buff, women should be vavoom. 
  4. Children raised agendered, then strictly split upon reaching puberty.
  5. Societal roles dependent on sex and zodiac. Eunuchs exist outside the system.
  6. Third gender previously held role of occult significance.

6. Sex

  1. Best done in groups. Public fuckeries a common business to this end.
  2. Quietly but enthusiastically celebrated as healthy and beneficial.
  3. Considered shameful and animalistic, public expression repressed.
  4. To be performed according to the proscribed forms and methods.
  5. Flamboyant performative displays typical; a load of fun for all involved.
  6. Participants dress and act as gods and myth-heroes.

7. Child-Rearing

  1. Children are raised in state-sanctioned boarding creches.
  2. A community effort; everyone watches the neighborhood kids.
  3. Strict punishments are the only way to teach children right from wrong. 
  4. Empathy, understanding, and the validity of emotions are key tools of any parent.
  5. Primarily the father's responsibility after they are weaned.
  6. Members of eunuch caste act as teachers and caretakers.

8. Naming

  1. Child-names are purposefully obscene or awful, in order to scare away evil spirits. 
  2. Elaborate public names, simple private names shared only with intimate companions.
  3. Weapons must be named, with appropriate documentation of their birth and education.
  4. Personal names are always changing based on traits, trades, and actions. 
  5. Three names for all: One given by parents, one given by friends, one given to oneself. 
  6. All names taken from a short approved list, accompanied by numbers for rank of birth.

9. Age

  1. The old are feared and despised, and exiled from the community upon reaching great age.
  2. Transitions celebrated: child to youth, youth to adult, adult to elder.
  3. The wisdom of the young and old work in tandem: grandparent/grandchild councils. 
  4. Years are not counted; age measured by state of the body and mind.
  5. Fading population boom has left many more elderly than the young.
  6. The desires of the younger generation are often ignored to maintain the practices of the old.

10. Death

  1. Paper grave goods are burned to provide the deceased with supplies and necessities in hell.
  2. The bones of the dead are carried around as protection against biting insects and parasites. 
  3. Sky-funerals are the standard, carried about by flocks of sacred vultures. 
  4. Organs of fallen family are preserved in jars of strong wine and kept in the home. 
  5. The dead are spoken as if alive until the birthday after their passing, when they are mourned.
  6. Those close to death hold grand gift-giving celebrations for family and friends.

11. Religious

  1. There is no afterlife, so make the best of this one.
  2. Suffering and complete purity of being alone please God.
  3. All gods are absorbed into the local religion for insurance purposes. 
  4. Worship practice of local god consists mostly of blaspheming rival gods.
  5. Divine omens must be read of entrails before any important action.
  6. Gods exist to be fought against and eventually killed.

12. Magic

  1. Is derived from the sun's heat and light.
  2. Is forcing your will upon the universe.
  3. Comes only from the land of the dead.
  4. Is maintained through bargain with the spirits.
  5. Is the knowing and revealing of truth.
  6. Is sacred text inscribed in blood and flesh.

13. Learning

  1. Private schooling reserved only for the wealthy.
  2. Oral histories and folklore, taught by extended family members.
  3. Schools consistently lack support from government and public.
  4. Serves as a production line for future producer-consumers.
  5. Encouraged as an enjoyable and satisfying pursuit for its own sake
  6. Learning must be active, rooted in traveling and interacting.

14. Food

  1. Hippos foolishly imported as meat animals.
  2. Fruit and fish, brought in fresh from the river.
  3. Spicy vegetarian fare. Excellent bread.
  4. Meat. Fried in oil. Type doesn't matter.
  5. Bland, cold, and in meager portions.
  6. Insects, worms, fungi, all raw.

15. Etiquette

  1. Lying to another is considered the gravest social offense.
  2. A shared meal must be offered to enemies before combat, litigation, or debate.
  3. The sight of publicly bare hands is an extreme scandal.
  4. Belching and slurping while eating shows appreciation to the chef. 
  5. Comedic insults should be thrown at friends and family when possible.
  6. Honorifics for sex, age, rank, profession, and other factors must be adhered to.

16. Dress

  1. Upon reaching the age of majority, the right hand is tattooed blue and the left hand red.
  2. Men and women both wear gigantic lacy hoop skirts and towering powdered wigs. 
  3. Bright colors and elaborate patterns are available even to the poor. 
  4. Complex sumptuary laws define acceptable dress by class, trade, and ethnicity.
  5. Heavy fur robes and masks with goggles are typical outside wear.
  6. Everyday clothing uses emblems and designs of long-gone knightly class.

17. Sport

  1. Sport is for children only; adults partaking in such childish behavior are whipped in public.
  2. Complex, slow-paced, communal strategy games are the favored pastime.
  3. High-contact team sports; injuries both common and lauded.
  4. 1v1 puppet-fighting gathers huge, raucous crowds.
  5. Outcome of games determines what is sacrificed to the gods.
  6. Sporting events used as truces between nations; politics always in the background.

18. Work

  1. Get the job done and get a good end result, the how is less important. 
  2. The value of a man is measured by his industriousness. 
  3. A job done for someone means they owe you a job in return. 
  4. Work is for the benefit of those who own the land and the factory.
  5. Labor ought serve the public good first, and the personal good second.
  6. Only idiots waste their lives working.

19. Time

  1. Schedules are to be kept immaculate. Lateness is unforgivable. 
  2. Stay up late, sleep in late. There is no need to rush anywhere.
  3. The epochs and inhabitants of deep-time are common parlance. 
  4. There is only the now and the short term - past and future are of no consequence.
  5. The calendar counts down to a future date, at which point it will reset for a new age.
  6. Recent timekeeping changes cause widespread confusion and dismay.

20. Wealth

  1. Overt or ostentatious displays of wealth are shunned, considered a weakness of confidence.
  2. No business can be done during the day, as the sun might grow angry at seeing its stolen gold. 
  3. Ownership, sale and purchase of abstract concepts is a foundational element of the economy.
  4. Currency types regularly shift and change; coin collectors overjoyed.
  5. Is an arbitrary assignment of value to a few chips of metal. Real treasure is elsewhere.
  6. If no one died getting it, is it really worth anything at all?

21. Rank

  1. Higher status means more trepannations, so as to let more spirits of the open sky into the mind.
  2. The literate are second-class citizens, but are immune to conscription and protected from war.
  3. Kings, being of heaven, must never touch the ground for so long as they may live.
  4. There is a caste devoted entirely to keeping track of all the castes and the connections between.
  5. Increasingly-elaborate methods of proving divine imperial bloodlines growing less effective.
  6. Positions of power are bought, given as gifts, or won randomly by lottery.

22. War

  1. Symbolic performances primarily for the entertainment of the masses.
  2. Those who declare war are traditionally placed on the front lines, to reward enthusiasm.
  3. Conflicts are primarily disinformation campaigns and surgical strikes.
  4. Legions of horrific chimeras bred for this very purpose: human soldiers rare.
  5. Competitive defensive strategies lead to decades-long cold wars.
  6. No-holds-barred arcane warfare. Warzones transformed into magical hellscapes for centuries.

23. Order

  1. Security against disruptive forces is prized above all else, no matter the cost. 
  2. A moiety of punks and satirists exists to keep the other half of civilization in check. 
  3. Society ordered according to unquestioned ancient precepts.
  4. Pre-existing order has been overturned by social development, the way forward in question.
  5. No one knows what's going on anymore, the train is off the rails.
  6. Chaos is embraced; all things in flux, all is made new.

24. Power

  1. Kings have absolute power save over the headsman in the corner of the throne room.
  2. Power rests in a small circle of those who have accrued and inherited vast wealth.
  3. Exercised with a subtle hand, so much so as to be unnoticed and invisible.
  4. In a constant state of self-destruction, quarantined away from society to reduce damage.
  5. Granted only to individuals who want nothing to do with it; given up when the time is done.
  6. The man with the sword only believes he holds power; he is always to be betrayed.

25. Freedom

  1. Freedom without personal responsibility is worthless chaos. 
  2. Thought and expression are free, but action is oppressively regulated.
  3. Means you are free to take away freedom from others.
  4. All are free to do as they will. No obligation can be forced upon one by another.
  5. Freedom is an illusion, and its pursuit only makes you more of a prisoner.
  6. Lack of personal freedom is unforgivable.

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.

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 titular state.
  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)