Saturday, April 27, 2019

Dan's Notebook of Unfinished Wonders, Vol 3

For previous installments, see Volume 1 and Volume 2.

Fewer of the handy bullet point ideas this time around, I'm diving into stillborn blogpost drafts and bits of short stories that never went beyond a few stuttering paragraphs.

1. A lighthugger full of space marines arrives at its destination to find that the war is over, their government no longer exists, there's no way back home, and they're stuck as a bunch of old men on a world populated by thelychroma. They spend their time playing cards at the local cafe.

2. Near-ish future. A repurposed oil rig is used as a luxury resort for the ultrarich. One of the indentured workers relates her experiences after the suicide of a friend.

3. "We found a pair of angels in orbit around Neptune. A pair of golden giants like Oscar trophies: two hundred and fifty miles high, floating there in the silence, six wings folded against their backs. Gabe and Mike, we called them. Gabe kept his hands behind his back and his legs straight. Mike’s knees were drawn up to his chest, his arms wrapped around them."

4. "He could make out the sound - a wave, a roar – of a million million tiny paws, striking away on a million million blood-slicked keyboards."

5. A pair of transhuman artists, Faust (sleeved into the body of a starving child, for art) and Schehezerade (terribly tall cyborg), walking the walls of their fortress compound out on the burning saltflats. Faust is planning on writing a poem called "An Elegy for Lost Time". He has never completed a poem. Schehezerade is dismissive, and clearly has been for a long time.

6. The first self-aware AI, Algernon, greeted its engineers with a cheerful "Hello, world!" upon waking up and then spent the next thirty-eight hours cataloging pornography before finally breaking the awful, awkward silence. It has continued this habit. Its tagging methods are excessively thorough. No one knows why it does this.

7. Monster: Chivalric Angler - A lady in a green and gold gown. Wears a tiara. Takes up residence in an abandoned castle or keep with up to six knights in thrall. Attacks with a blast of magical lamplight. The true form is toothsome and trampling.

8. "Every few years, the Daud & Palusad Shipping company would rebind the shades to their work force of potbellied, ape-like golems. This year it was typically dull, until a binder came across a golem out of its sleeping dock, scratching a message in the dust with a thick finger: HELLO I BELIEVE THERE HAS BEEN A MISTAKE.

9. "He was the man who came in to clean up after a Chuck Palahnuik novel."

10. "I don't care if he doesn't fit, This is the coffin we have and we need to get this stiff buried. Cut off his arms or something."

11. First contact is carried out through a gameified invasion. Those who are conquered will become clients of whatever alliance defeated them. Those that do not crumble under the assault are given leadership of the invading alliance.

12. "Her father was a pearl farmer and a drunkard. He was not a cruel man, but long years and hard labor had hardened him until the lines on his face had fossilized and his eyes had been drained of their stars. He favored the heavy, milky liquor that the flower cults made, and each night he would drink himself to sleep after he had eaten whatever food her mother had prepared. He rarely ever spoke. When he woke, in the black hours of the morning, he would purge with the sharp green spirits of the medicine-men, put on his boots, and leave their hovel-home without a word.

Her mother had been a foreigner, once. Years in the Pit had stripped her of the beauty she had once had, and whatever mystique of foreign lands she possessed had faded before she’d given birth. The pit people couldn’t be found to care very much about the world beyond their own troubles. She would go to the market each day, selling fungal preserves and the baskets and rugs she had woven out of mycelium."

Class: Best Friends

First there were the Extras, then there were the Many Goblins, now there are the Best Friends.

HP: Best Friends gain d6 HP per level. Best Friends will split their HP evenly among all members. Any HP leftover is used as the emergency "You didn't win!" supply. (Ex. 3 Best Friends with 11 total HP = 3 HP per friend, with 2 additional HP that may be used to avoid injury or death as needed.)

Saves: As Specialist

Weapons and Armor: Best Friends may use any weapons and armor.

Bumblekings:  Best Friends are terribly uncoordinated, and so may still only take one attack per turn in combat. All of them may move, however.

Rising Superstar: If a member dies or retires, their spells go with them. However, that number of spell slots may be split among the remaining three members.

The Expanded Universe: After reaching level 6, Best Friends may gain an auxiliary friend to support them with a magical item or service every level.

Quartet of the Humours: Each new Best Friends will fulfill a different humour. Humours may be gained in any order. Once per session, a Best Friend may reroll a failed check related to their idiom.
  • Sanguine - Impulsive, optimistic
  • Choleric - Short-tempered, pessimistic
  • Melancholic - Introverted, thoughtful
  • Phlegmatic - Calm, collected, rational
Spellcasting: Each Best Friend knows three spells unique to them. All friends learn a fourth emblem spell at level 5.

(This was a terribly-timed idea, all things considered: the Super Best Friends had dissolved when I finally got around to starting it, and with two of them now partnered with Rooster Teeth I don't feel very keen on dragging out the joke.)

Mind Goblins

Mind goblins are goblins that live in your brain. They aren't necessarily evil, but that doesn't mean that they aren't a pain in the ass.

Mind goblins take up 1 inventory slot. Characters must make a will save to resist their urges. They have two major modes of troublemaking:
  • "But what if I need it?" - An item or resource that may be consumed will be hoarded.
  • "But then it won't be right!" - A certain action must be done a specific way.

Mistborn Adventure Game Review

  • 537 pages. Too long for the content within.
  • Perfect bound softcover is good quality and feels good to hold.
  • Art is good for characters, but there is very little of it. Waaaaaay too much repeated generic interstitial art.
  • Single-column, small print, little whitespace.
  • Dice pools, some mechanics for social combat and storygame character stuff.
  • Magic system is clunky. Later books have some fun combinations of powers but you have to wrangle this system into submission.
  • Prohibitive player buy-in and referee limitations.
  • Generally sterile and lifeless setting, despite all the words devoted to it. Some few gems: Inquisitors, Obligators, koloss.


  1. Sometimes I feel like I should compiled all of these, clean them up, expand them, turn them into a sort of "book of fragments".

  2. I like the book of fragments idea. Each of these ones you have here are quite evocative. They would make good writing prompts.

  3. Ha, certainly wasn't expecting the sbfp inspired class. I might to inflict my players with a mind goblin though......

  4. The Mistborn AG books are pretty disappointing. They basically retread what was covered in the books, but in a more vague and lifeless manner.

    I really like the Mistborn novels, but it's a dying world barely held together by a god of stagnation. In order to run a game in that setting, I'm going to need more details which breathe life into that world and let my players do something other than retread the beats of the novel.

    A millennium ago, the Lord Ruler literally reshaped the planet and modified the biology and ecology of the planet. He then spent hundreds of years experimenting with the creation of magical constructs. The gamebook is already non-canon-compliant, so why not give me some details about these harsh alien environments. Make up some weird freaky failed creations to stalk the countryside.

    But instead the gamebook spends a whole page telling me to just make up the terrain based on what I've seen in real life. "Take those memories out of context, place them in this new world, and decorate them with the ash and mist dominating the Empire’s countryside." Dustier Iowa. What a compelling setting!

  5. Number eight is an excellent start, and I will be including that in any city campaign I run. "Excessively thorough" is quite a... quite a thought-provoking statement to make. Umm.