Friday, February 22, 2019

Mother Stole the Background Kits #3

Johasnes Helgeson

Previous posts 1, 2

Table 3: Knightly Orders

1. Order of the Sable Maid

Defenders of the weak, enemies of the wicked.
  • Greatsword (d10, 3s)
  • Chainmail and Tabard (14ac, 3s)
  • Holy Water
  • Anointing Oil

2. Knight of Autumn

Followers of the Folk of Fall.
  • Sword (d8, 2s)
  • Gambeson (12ac, 1s)
  • Shield (+1ac)
  • Spell: Grow Mighty Oak (Magic Acorns)
  • Cloak of Leaves
  • Bottle of Goblin Moonshine

3. Knight Embryonic

Justice will not wait for birth.
  • Warhammer  (d10, 3s)
  • Elaborate Plate Armor (16ac, 5s)
  • Helmet (+1ac, 1s)
  • Spell: Aura of Safety

4. Crusader

The front line against Hell.
  • Sword (d8, 2s)
  • Plate Armor (16ac, 5s)
  • Battle Standard
  • Shield (+1ac, 1s)
  • Helmet (+1ac, 1s)
  • Spell: Turn Demon (Blessed Scroll)

5. Lantern Knight

By our light, the path in the dark.
  • Sword (d8, 2s)
  • Brigandine and Cloak (13ac, 2s)
  • Lamplighter + Snuffer
  • Lantern
  • Flask of Oil

6. Leper Knight

They shall not die timidly.
  • Sword (d8, 2s)
  • Mask and Bandages
  • Shield (+1ac)
  • Healing Balm
  • Terrifying Visage

7. Red Witch

Blood red in tooth and blade, life and death.
  • Barbed sword (d8, 2s)
  • Blood-Soaked Rags
  • Spell: Blood-Lore
  • Spell: Frenzied Lust for Violence

8. Incense Knight

Such sweet smells that rise up to the gods.
  • Censor-Mace (d8, 2s)
  • Bag of Charcoal
  • Tin of Incense
  • Half Plate (14ac, 4s)
  • Helmet (+1ac, 1s)

9. Gunpowder Knight

Sworn by Colt and Winchester.
  • Revolver (d8, 1s)
  • Repeating Rifle (d10, 2s)
  • Spell: Quickdraw (Coat of Arms)
  • Powder and Shot

10. Harmatean Knight

Know thyself, and know thy demons better.
  • Axe
  • Shield
  • Brigandine
  • Spell: Summon Demon
  • Spell: Chain Demon

11. Legio Ultimo Marine

The last of Darvatius’ finest.
  • Spear (d8, 2s)
  • Segmentata (14ac, 3s)
  • Helmet (+1ac 1s)
  • Shield (+1ac, 1s)
  • Short Sword (d6, 1s)
  • Sling (d4, 1s)
  • Field Ration x1

12. Knight of Cordyceps

Chivalry is an effective quarantine.
  • Longsword (d10, 3s)
  • Half-Plate and Cloak (15ac, 4s)
  • Spore Pods
  • Spell: Cloud of Spores
  • Spell: Creeping Mycelium

Thursday, February 21, 2019

Unironic Use of Fake Jacobean Speech

E.R. Eddison's The Worm Ouroboros ends on a pristine moment of horror: the four protagonists are granted a wish by the gods, and they wish to endlessly repeat the brutal four-year war they just finished fighting, forever.

This book was written in 1922.  There are no signs of satire.

(This is where I plug Jack and Kate over at Bad Books for Bad People, they have a great episode all about this).

Anyway! Games. Whilst unspeakably horrifying to any human being even remotely on the spectrum of decency, the cyclic forever war is damn good gaming material. So for that purpose I shall use it.

War, huh? What's it good for?

The two main belligerents in the Ouroboros War are Demonland (led by the Lords Juss, Spitfire, and Goldry Bluszco) and Witchland (led by King Gorice XII). Everyone seems to be human for whatever reason.

Witchland has a bunch of minor client nations allied to them (Goblinland, Pixieland, Impland, etc. All of varying reliability), at least one competent political advisor, and a black magician. Demonland tends to field Big Strong Distressingly-Aryan Big Strong Men What Fight Good And They Are The Best And Noblest Because They Are Big and Strong And Also Manchildren.

Actual foot soldiers? Ha, fuck them, they don't matter in this story. All the actual consequences of war get a single sentence.

The important thing is that everyone remembers what happened in the last loop. The world state resets, the dead are now alive again, but no one forgets. Each time it will be different, but the end result will always be the same.

Everything Old is New Again

Game premise: You are all soldiers and peasantry who have been on the receiving end of the Ouroboros War for 3 / 5 / 10 / 20 / 50 / 100 cycles. You are engaged in a desperate attempt to stop the cycle and depose the Lords, if possible. By now you know that Juss' queen, Sophonisba, is responsible for the hell the world finds itself in. She called upon the gods, and they answered her. Perhaps she can call upon them again, if she had a conscience.

But she is always in the presence of the Lords, and that is a great problem: the Lords are either at the head of their army, or wandering around in the wilderness halfway around the world. Defeating them in direct combat is unlikely, given how Big and Strong they are. There are potential allies to be found in certain members of the court of Witchland (though that nation is likewise filled with meatheaded manchildren) and perhaps among the minor nations, but that must be saved until the cycle is broken. Killing the Lords now will do nothing but give Witchland the round.

It is likely that you will all die. This is only a temporary problem, because you will return in the next cycle with all the knowledge you gained the last time.

Edit: And then Dark Souls Happens

Type1Ninja in the OSR Discord said that my description sounded a lot like Dark Souls III. Lords of Cinder constantly perpetuating a cycle, rejected nobody ends up either perpetuating or ending the cycle. Aesthetically, Souls games are the polar opposite of The Worm Ouroboros, which can only mean that the interaction and synthesis of the two is a great idea.

Monday, February 18, 2019

An Account of Inherited Books

You can learn a lot about someone by their bookshelf. These were once my dad's, and now they have passed to me.
  • The Name of the Rose, Umberto Eco
  • The Annotated Wizard of Oz, L. Frank Baum
  • The Annotated Alice, Lewis Carrol
  • Histories, Heroditus
  • Beowulf, Norton Critical Edition
  • The Aenead of Vergil, trans. Rolfe Humphries
  • Private Life in the Fifteenth Century, ed. Roger Virgoe
  • Encyclopedia of the Middle Ages, Norman Cantor
  • Civilization of the Middle Ages,  Norman Cantor
  • Castle, David Macauley
  • In Praise of Folly, Erasmus
  • The Black Death, Philip Ziegler
  • The Travels, Marco Polo
  • Spells of Enchantment: The Wondrous Fairy Tales of Western Culture, ed. Jack Zipes
  • Leonardo Da Vinci: the Complete Paintings, Pietro Marani 
  • The Complete Sherlock Holmes, Arthur Conan Doyle
  • Celebrated Cases of Judge Dee, trans. Robert van Gulik
  • Judge Dee at Work, Robert van Gulik
  • The Emperor's Pearl, Robert van Gulik
  • The Chinese Gold Murders, Robert van Gulik
  • The Chinese Bell Murders, Robert van Gulik 
  • The Lacquer Screen, Robert van Gulik
  • Stiff Upper Lip, Jeeves, P.G. Wodehouse
  • Second copy of Stiff Upper Lip, Jeeves
  • Mulliner Nights, P.G. Wodehouse
  • The Feudal Spirit, P.G. Wodehouse
  • Aunts Aren't Gentlemen, P.G. Wodehouse
  • Cocktail Time, P.G. Wodehouse
  • Luck of the Bodkins, P.G. Wodehouse
  • The Man Upstairs, P.G. Wodehouse
  • Very Good, Jeeves, P.G. Wodehouse
  • The League of Frightened Men, Rex Stout
  • A second copy of The League of Frightened Men
  • Please Pass the Guilt, Rex Stout
  • Plot it Yourself, Rex Stout
  • Representing Reality: Readings in Non-Fiction, John Warnock
  • Sister Wendy's Grand Tour, Sr. Wendy Beckett
  • Gaudy Night, Dorothy Sayers
  • Hush Money, Robert Parker
  • Jack, Knave, and Fool, Bruce Alexander
  • Murder at the Vicarage, Agatha Christie
  • Noble Radiance, Donna Leon
  • Acqua Alta, Donna Leon
  • The Historian, Elizabeth Kostova
  • Valediction, Robert Parker
  • The Lies of Fair Ladies, Jonathan Grant
  • Armadillos and Old Lace, Kinky Friedman
  • Murder at the ABA, Isaac Asimov
  • Fletch Reflected, Gregory Mcdonald
  • The Road to Rhuine, Simon Troy
  • The World of Giotto, Sarel Eimerl
  • The Electric Kool-Aid Acid Test, Tom Wolfe
  • Style (3rd Ed.), Joseph Williams
  • The Well-Tempered Sentence, Karen Elizabeth Gordon
  • The Transitive Vampire, Karen Elizabeth Gordon
  • Citizen Sherman, Michael Fellman
  • Atlas of the Civil War, Time-Life
  • The Pythons, the Pythons
  • Monty Python's Flying Circus DVD box set
  • 2 daily calendars compatible with 2020 and 2026.
  • Several books of crossword puzzles, partially completed in pen.
  • A wooden mask, laughing. 
  • Desk sign: "English Department: Sentences diagrammed, infinitives split, participles dangled, while you wait."
  • A finger painting I made in preschool. 
Now if I can't make an adventure or ten out of this list I might as well just quit this whole RPG thing. To avoid this grievous disappointment, here is the skeleton of a campaign come up with on the fly. Given the nature of most of the books on this list, this would probably be best suited for BRP or GURPS.

Session 1: Judge Dee and his lieutenants are confronted with the case of the "Laughing Mask Murders". Judge Dee, unsettled by the events, sends the wooden mask into the care of the Imperial Censors in the capital.

Session 2: Beowulf and his Geats come to the aid of Hrothgar, kill the monster Grendel and his mother. Great and wonderful treasures are found: among them, a golden mask with a terrible visage. All are taken back to Götaland.

Session 3: A short comedic interlude wherein Marco Polo and companions assist the Khan's men to solve a mystery. They are given the Laughing Mask as a reward, and it is taken back to Italy.

Session 4: The Plague has reached northern Italy. A monastery, spared of the sickness thus far, is struck with a string of mysterious deaths. All the while, the Laughing Mask sits in the main alcove of the library.

Session 5: Da Vinci's anatomical lessons get out of hand as the dead seem to leap up from the table. One of the corpses gets its hold on the Laughing Mask (Leonardo had acquired it some time before) and goes on a rampage.

Session 6: A band of Union soldiers separated from Sherman's main force find themselves lost in the Georgia backwoods, stalked by a monstrous being in a weeping stone mask.

Session 7: Sherlock Holmes is brought in to solve the theft of the Terrible Mask from the British Museum. While doing so he meets an old American soldier who shares the story of the Weeping Mask. The soldier steals the Terrible Mask and smuggles it over to America, for reasons unknown.

Session 8: Bertie Wooster and his butler Jeeves have a rather silly little adventure of no greater consequence.

Phase 9: Chaos is unleashed as the three masks are joined during Game 4 of the 1966 World Series. Yes, this is a JoJo reference.

Not half bad for off the top of my head. Had to finish it off with baseball, the old man was a gigantic Orioles fan and he'd at least be entertained by all the musical gags in JoJo.

Thursday, February 14, 2019

Mother Stole Fire: Core Themes

Julie Dillon

Tristan Tanner over at Bogeyman's Cave had a post featuring the six core themes of his setting, with an invitation for others to do the same. I'm taking up the offer for Mother Stole Fire and putting a little twist on it - instead of six themes, I'll be going through six features of the setting and explaining the thought process behind them. (Michael Kennedy did a post on thematic worldbuilding, too, so this is a decent follow up.)

0. A Note

My favorite aspect of fantasy is that it's intrinsically a personal thing. Of everything I have written in my time writing things, this might be the most-so, which means I am both quite proud of it and constantly going "nooooooo I'm falling into self-indulgence i don't even know if this makes sense to anyone but me!"

1. Mother

She started as a pretty plain plain flipping of the script: mother goddess as active head of the pantheon. The theft of fire was a natural extension with plenty of precedent (Greek and Pacific Northwest myth as my two touchstones, though there are certainly more), and that was further synthesized with the development of firemaking as synonymous with the emergence of modern humans and the transition from the into the Holocene. And if fire was stolen, then it must mean that Mother is a trickster. The character builds herself from there.

I haven't written much about her husband Baba Tubalkhan, but he operates under the same principle. The name gives away a chunk of his lineage (and his propensity towards metalwork), but there's a smattering of Odin about him as well (the missing eye, given up for greater wisdom. Granted that could be a bit of Ra too. Maybe he has a really nasty cat.) Sky gods and sun gods and ineffable eternal principles don't have anything to do with actual people and tend to make bad parents, so he's the god of craft, good judgement, and wisdom. Actual dad stuff.

Mother gets top billing, but that's what happens when you RKV a dragon out of nowhere. Baba hates the spotlight anyway.

2. The Gods

They don't come down from Mt. Olympus to fuck chambermaids. They're not external cosmic forces either. Maybe it's better to say that the gods aren't real, but they are true. They're not things. They're not people. They're actions, verbs, reflections. The act is the image is the magic is the god. They don't have much to do with religion because religion is based in belief and gods aren't a matter of belief. A god with only belief has no power, has no being, it has nothing to reflect. These are personal gods, relatable gods, our gods. Stripped of dogma and strict hierarchies. Living and breathing and changing gods. Old gods, who encompass the breadth and depth of humanity as a whole. There's no god who will impose justice from the outside, only the god of the justice we live out.

Practically, this is a way I can have loads of gods without having to worry about all the mess of divine intervention or worrying about sources of magic. Organized religion in Mother Stole Fire is lightweight when it appears at all. Wandering mendicants and roadside shrines, a few assorted cults and monastic orders and so on. Nothing really big, and certainly nothing that gets mixed in with politics.

Plus I get to dig deep for obscure mythologies (which is fun) and continue with the theme of combining anything I can draw a connection between and use reader familiarity to draw people in.

3. The Folk

Elves have gotten a rough deal of late. With reality trapped in the attitude that the world is something that can be mastered / conquered / commoditized and a whole lot of modern fantasy removing wonder and awe with all with all the grace of a battlefield amputation, they've been reduced to pointy-eared fops writing melodramatic poetry about leaves.

I don't like that one bit. So I mainline the opening of Princess Mononoke and Shadow of the Colossus and Hellboy and make sure that the wild spirits of untamed nature are not forgotten. 

They're also the force that drives humanity in Mother Stole Fire to be far more respectful and more humble when it comes to treatment of the world around it: you must respect Pele, because she's a fucking volcano and you aren't. (Those who read my take on modern Lovecraft will already be familiar with my feelings on the matter of humility, but I do go on and on (as my old man used to say, "I'm the best at being humble!")

4. Humanity

Here's where things start pulling together.

Humans in Mother Stole Fire consist of five primary peoples (manu, idaltu, neandr, florin, lilu) and a panoply of cultures and societies within those peoples. I deliberately want to avoid homogeneity so I tend to fall into the "city states are the best states" camp. The sphere of human culture is wonderfully, dizzyingly diverse (as it is in reality), but at the foundation of it all is the bedrock of kinship among all humanity. Foundation is the wrong word: It's more like a web, all the connections between. No one stands at the center. There is no center. There are only the multitudes.

Which is all to say (as I have alluded to in other posts), Mother Stole Fire is a sight better off than we are. I mean, it would have to be, when concepts like the equality between man and woman and the universal dignity of the human person come about before agriculture and written language (and have remained ingrained due to positive feedback loop). Save Dis, there are only two authoritarian empires that ever had great sway in the world, and both of those have collapsed.

5. Hell

I'm terribly unsubtle when writing about Hell. It's the late-stage capitalism quarantine zone. Slate Star Codex's "Meditations on Moloch" in city-state form. It's every horrific thing pulled out from the past and wadded together in a hideous fleshy paste of suffering.

The important thing is that Hell is made by people. It's not an external force at all, and all those demons up all the way to Moloch are our doing. It could be undone if people thought to stop.

Terribly unsubtle. Matched only by my incredibly idealistic effort to stave off crushing existential depression by making Mother Stole Fire a setting where Hell has been contained.

6. Death

It's the end. Ghosts are just magical leftovers without any continuity of consciousness. Hell is just a city. All attempts to maintain one's being after bodily death will eventually fail. There are no gods of death, only of mourning. No one ever comes back, and everyone knows it. Mother clutches her stillborn child and weeps.

In other settings I might put an afterlife, but not here. It'd feel cheap to have an easy way out of the human experience. It wouldn't be true. We don't get takebacks, re-dos, or sequels, and so there's no good reason I can see to add them into a setting that's supposed to be about people.

It's the final reaffirmation of all the rest of the setting: We are masters of nothing and only momentary inhabitants of the world, but we are not alone. 

(Now's an appropriate time to link to this tumblr post regarding the spiritual nature of art and how that relates to mortality. And to say that the real motivator behind starting this blog was that moment of realizing my own mortality that sunk in after my dad died.)

So that's Mother Stole Fire, in a nutshell.

Julie Dillon

Sunday, February 10, 2019

Moon Beasts, Necromantic Republic, and the City of Dis


The Moon Beasts

Ships with tar-black hulls and fuligin sails descend softly from the moon: the men of Leng have come to trade.

They favor the ports of the Mare Interregnum and the city of Dis, but have been seen as far north as the border of Orca's territory and in some rare cases far inland. The wizards of Selene-Tranquility University believe they come from the far side of the moon, or perhaps the distant ulfire cities of the New Gods.

The Leng-men are short and swaddle themselves in heavy silk robes and wide turbans. Their four eyes are like beads of liquid coal and their wide, lipless mouths house splintered, yellowed teeth. They are not human. With wide smiles and bobbing heads they welcome you in, guiding you past displays of  beautiful jewels and precious gems, shelves overflowing with arcane items of eldritch import. Braziers of smoky, metallic incense sit nested among ranks of dribbly red candles.

They will accept gold and other valuables as payment, but find them dull and will rarely part with anything of value in exchange. They prefer to trade in people. They will never say the word "slave" (at least, outside of Hell and a few Darvatian and Acephavaran settlements), but they will take any human offered to them. They prefer nasty ones. Petty, violent, ignorant, monstrous men. So it seems, at least. They don't itemize what they look for, they will just bob their head and say "Yes, it will do" or "No, I cannot."

In the hold of each black ship is a Moon Beast: a pallid, bloated froglike thing, pink-red tendrils cascading down from an eyeless head. These are the true masters of the men of Leng, known to the unsuspecting greater world through scattered and contradictory eye-witness testimony and written off as horrible fancies or some monstrous beasts for sale.

The Moon Beasts revel in the pain of their prey and feast upon them as they will. They have grand transformative designs for the world; these visitations are the early stages, the first points of corruption. They make alliances with Hell. The foster the lies of the New Gods' existence, softening the populace's mental resistance to their conditioning. Dis gravely underestimates the threat.

They see a future of fattened cattle and killing floors.

Leng-men and their Runaway Slaves

  1. A pair of Leng-men seemingly marooned by their fellows.
  2. Slave: Murderous, cannibalistic, obese, narcissist.
  3. Slave: Dazed, amnesiac thaumonaut. Nightmares of an oily, sunless city.
  4. Slave: Amputated, lobotomized, can neither speak nor think clearly.
  5. Leng-man palanquin carried by two thralls. A third slave pulls a cart of goods.
  6. Leng-man corpse in a gutter: the skull has been cracked open, and the brain removed.

Objects for Sale or Trade

  1. An opalized skull, a froth of pearls oozing from the mouth and eyes and nose. Soft blue glow.
  2. A string of rubies in silver settings. When lifted to the light, one might see faces frozen within.
  3. Ten small cubes of dark, soft matter. One is apparently supposed to eat them...
  4. Bones, encrusted with crystals and emeralds. Make atonal flutelike noises when moved about.
  5. Books, padlocked and chained. Covers of blood-red vellum illuminated in gold and silver.
  6. A sealed vase of milky stone, hieroglyphs painted on in black columns. Something sloshes around within.


The Socialist Necromantic Republic

Necromancy is instantaneously and catastrophically disruptive of status-quo politics. Stirring fears of dark wizards sending armies of the undead out to pillage the countryside is a stable tactic among the ruling class, despite the days of those dread sorcerers sitting comfortably in the past.

No matter. Chaos breeds opportunity, and in the wake of the war against Hell about a century back (the very same where the Sable Maid faced Darvatius before the walls of Dis) a certain heterodox mage of the lowland plains began raising the remains of the recently dead and set them to working the fields of his shattered homeland. This was the beginning of the Republics.

Today, the inhabitants of those cities pass live a life of plenty and leisure, free to pursue whatever arts, sciences, or crafts they might desire. All that is asked of them is that they learn some of the necromantic arts so as to maintain their status as equals, and vote in their local council meetings, and offer up their bones to the Republic when they die.

As for the dead, they still work without complaint. They grow the food, they maintain the roads, they shovel the snow, they clean the streets, guard the walls, deliver the mail and so on. The SNR would have spread far further, were it not for the fact that it sits on the border of Hell's territory and must expend a great deal of resources to fending them off. The city-states of the Mare Interregnum have, as of yet, resisted alliance out of distrust and envy. The northern neighbors tend to look on them more favorably.

For those citizens of the SNR possessed by the wanderlust for places abroad, they will most likely be of the inventive necromancer sort.

Necromancers Abroad

  1. A vacationing necromancer couple and their three skeleton servants.
  2. An entire household, pulled about by a great amalgamation of elephant bones.
  3. A diplomat and his aides, off to sign a treaty with a nearby city.
  4. An inspection and repair team, doing rounds on the plantations.
  5. Traveling philosophers' circus and artisans' cooperative.
  6. A single skeleton, awaiting new orders.

Cultural Customs of the SNR

  1. The Day of the Dead is celebrated on the first of every month, with a grand celebration marking the new year.
  2. Only ever use your grandmother's knucklebones for dice.
  3. Those who slack in their responsibility to vote must wear a sign with the symbol for "serf" until the next voting day.
  4. Visitors must leave all their money at the gatehouse when they enter the city - it will be returned to them as they depart.
  5. Deceased individuals are referred to as alive, but have a unique pronoun.
  6. The archetype of the pasty, distant necromancer in melancholy dress is actually a stock character in comedies with no bearing on reality.
Marie Crazy Dove


Hell is a real place. It was the first city in the world, raised just as the snows were melting. It was a city built by those who rejected Mother and Father's teachings and said "why ought we who are powerful submit to the presence of those who are weak? Why ought they take what is ours?" And so they built in the savanna a city of red stone, and named it Dis.

The ages have passed, and from them have come the Lords of Hell. Mammon. Darvatius. The Forge Baron. The Worm. Moloch. And in the city the strong devour the weak, for the profit made on a brother's suffering will buy the assent of such men. Demons of all kinds infest the city as maggots in a carcass, and men are crowded there as insects in a hive. The enslaved masses war against each other for the scraps and favor of their overlords.

Hell is constantly trying to expand across the world through conquest and guile. So far it has been successfully contained.

Districts of the City Dis

  1. The Worm Pits - Sewage and refuse drains down to the lower levels of the city. Hordes of scavengers out for their daily meal
  2. Parade Grounds - Blocky, brutalist compounds that house the legions of Darvatius. Even the other Lords hesitate to enter.
  3. Witches' Gallows - Every leaning corner is home to a noose. The Witch-Hunter General presides in the central courthouse, and has grown so corpulent that he is incapable of presiding elsewhere.
  4. The Stacks - Tenement complexes curled around the Forge Baron's smokestacks, crusted over with layers of soot and grit.
  5. Worm's Armory - A knotted jungle of weapons of war and the victims thereof. Demons cavort in the bladed branches of firearm trees.
  6. The Market of Bulls - Where slaves are sold and sacrificed beneath the gaze of the vast idol of Moloch, which is kept aflame and fed at all hours.

Dispaterian Food

  1. Black Sheep - Carnivorous, with abrasive wool
  2. Long Pig - Bloated semihumans stretched out to ten or twelve feet. Will eat anything.
  3. Slurry-Worms - Thin, pale, live in shit. Staple food.
  4. Devil Dumpling - A single piece can nourish someone for an entire year, at the cost of several lives' worth of debt. Creditors aren't picky whose lives.
  5. Grut - A gnarled root tuber that grows in dark cracks of the undercity. Tastes like powdered glass.
  6. Soul-Sand - A mix of grit and dried blood, harvested from sacrificial altars. Can be baked into cakes with a bit of dirty, lead-heavy water.

Thursday, February 7, 2019

All Purpose Mad Libs Late Capitalist Scenario Generator

You better believe this is for Mothership.

1. [Company 1] releases [Wildly successful product]

2. [Company 2+], envious of the success of [Company 1], draws up plans for [Copycat product]. They completely abandon [Once popular product], under patently untrue claims that no one wants it anymore.

3. It is obvious to even casual observers that [Copycat product] will never reach the heights of [Wildly successful product] due to [Crippling oversight] and [Missing features] born of risk aversion and lack of any practical understanding of [Product field].

4. To make [Copycat product], [Company 2+] hires expendable contractors at low wages to fulfill [Task] under crushing deadlines. These contractors have no love for the company or their conditions, but are forced into service to afford [Necessary expense]. Many will die.

5. [Copycat product] is either a complete failure or otherwise performs below shareholder expectations, surprising fucking no one who has two functioning neurons. Contractors are terminated and development teams are closed, cancelling whatever good ideas they might have had.

5b. [Copycat product] is successful and [Company 2+] devotes all possible man power to iterating upon it. This inevitably results in failure.

6. This cycle continues until [Company 1] fucks up and [Wildly successful product] is no longer wildly successful. The buyer base will move on to [Different trending product], and it repeats.