Saturday, February 29, 2020

RiseAndShine.Exe - November Patreon Post

Jasper Francis Cropsey

Referee Forward: I built this as a way of introducing people to Eclipse Phase blind - use a simulation to run folks through character generation and the basic mechanics without overloading them on rules and setting fluff. Still works with people who know what they are getting into, but I want to experiment with those who don’t and see how it works out (This is as-yet untested, by-the-by.)

Basically, as the players progress through this scenario they will be posed questions. Their answers will determine the skill packages (background, career, interest, and faction) that will make up their character on the outside.

Treat everyone as having a 30 or 40 in all skills. Don’t worry about what packages give people until session 2 - those will be determined by how they answer the questions of the locks. (See the core 2e rulebook for those)

The Players: Modern-day vacationers (In reality the infomorphs of Firewall agents)
The Setting: A secluded campsite; rustic cabins around a mountain lake. A summer evening.
The Hook: There’s a cry from down at the beach: a corpse has washed ashore.

Before Everything Begins

All players should answer the following question and take the appropriate aptitude template. If this is a meatspace game, I suggest putting this front and center on the character sheet / index card.

Stats are Cognition / Intuition / Reflexes / Savvy / Somatics / Will

I would describe myself as…
  • Physical and athletic - 10/15/20/10/20/15
  • Extroverted and outgoing - 10/20/15/20/15/10
  • Good at planning and organizing - 15/15/10/20/10/20
  • Never really sticking out - 15/15/15/15/15/15
  • Creative and inquisitive - 20/20/10/15/10/15
  • Hardy and adaptable - 15/10/15/10/20/20
  • Adventurous and thrill-seeking - 20/10/20/15/15/10

The Corpse

A pale, waterlogged man, chained to a steamer trunk sealed with five sturdy locks. There is a heavy iron key tied to his wrist.

When the first lock is opened, the players will all receive a text message (if they do not have their phones on them, which is likely, they have appeared in their pockets)

First Question: What was your childhood like?

  • We wanted to start a new life somewhere else (Colonist)
  • We had a safe and stable life (Enclaver)
  • We moved around a lot (Freelancer)
  • My parents had gigantic debts they couldn’t pay off (Indenture)
  • I spent most of my time online (Infolife)
  • My parents were never around (Lost)
  • We were always just scraping by (Underclass)
  • I got a lot of shit for who I was (Uplift)

The Phone Call

After the question is answered, one of the phones rings. No one should be getting service up here. Caller ID is blank. It keeps ringing until it is picked up.

“You are in danger. Get that chest open as soon as possible. The keys are around here. I promise it will make sense as soon as you open up that chest.”

The Campground

Ten rustic cabins, clustered on one side of the egg-shaped lake. No cell reception. If the players try to leave by car, the batteries are dead. Also of note:
  • An old fire-tower.
  • An island in the middle of the lake. A bonfire appears there after the phone call.
  • A small ranger’s cabin.

The Four Remaining Keys

These may be found and used in any order.

  • At the top of the fire tower.
    • A player will have to climb up a rusty, unstable ladder without falling. The edges are sharp and will injure their hands without protection (difficult to hold or grab things).
  • In a computer-controlled safe in the ranger’s cabin.
    • The computer can be hacked, or with more time the lock can be picked (triggers monster).
  • On a 12’ tall pole in the center of the bonfire on the island.
    • Attempting to put out the bonfire will take enough time to trigger the monster
  • Hanging from the belt of the monster.
    • The monster will appear after the third key is found, or when triggered.

The Monster

A huge, slow, hunchbacked thing with a single red eye like an ember, dragging a heavy maul behind it.

It can always be outrun, but has a tendency to show up out of nowhere.

Can be distracted, tripped up, snuck up upon, etc. It can smash down walls and recover, but it will always take a second blow.

It is scared of being burned, but not so scared that it ceases to be a threat at all.

A successful hit will cripple / incapacitate a player. A second will kill. We’re not worried much about HP at this point.

Dead players are, of course, not actually dead. They can communicate with other players via their cellphones. Any questions not answered will be randomly rolled.

Questions of the Keys

Each new key will ask a new question of the players

Second Question: Tell me how you see yourself.

No matter their answer,  roll 2d5

  • 11 -Arachnoid
  • 12 - Bouncer
  • 13 - Dragonfly
  • 14 - Exalt
  • 15 - Fury
  • 21 - Futura
  • 22 - Galatea
  • 23 - Ghost
  • 24 - Hibernoid
  • 25 - Menton
  • 31 - Neo-Avian
  • 32 - Neo-Ape (1. Chimp / 2. Bonobo / 3. Gorilla / 4. Orangutan)
  • 33 - Neo-Neanderthal
  • 34 - Neo-Octopus
  • 35 - Neotenic
  • 41 - Novacrab
  • 42 - Olympian
  • 43 - Pleasure Pod
  • 44 - Ruster
  • 45 - Security Pod
  • 51 - Slitheroid
  • 52 - Splicer
  • 53 - Steel Morph
  • 54 - Sylph
  • 55 - Synth

Third Question: Which statement do you agree with most?

  • I love teaching people new knowledge and skills (Academic)
  • I like working behind the scenes (Covert Ops)
  • Sometimes you have to be rough to get things done (Enforcer)
  • I like going new places (Explorer)
  • I like meeting new people (Face)
  • I like studying plants and animals (Genehacker)
  • People come to me to fix their computer (Hacker)
  • I like solving difficult problems (Investigator)
  • Healthy living is a priority (Medic)
  • I want to know how people think (Mindhacker)
  • One man’s trash is you know the rest (Scavenger)
  • I’m always looking to discover and learn (Scientist)
  • It’s important to protect your country (Soldier)
  • I like tinkering with things and seeing how they work (Techie)

Fourth Question: Which have you done recently?

  • Got a new pet (Animal Handler)
  • Made something beautiful (Artist / Icon)
  • Experienced an altered mental state (Async)
  • Led people on a project (Commander)
  • Practiced a martial art (Fighter)
  • Solved a puzzle (Forensics)
  • Drifted along your own way (Jack of All Trades)
  • Raced drones (Jammer)
  • Met and talked to new people (Networker)
  • Saved someone’s life (Paramedic)
  • Flew a plane (Pilot)
  • Lied to someone (Rogue)
  • Sat around and played video games (Slacker)
  • Went starwatching (Spacer)
  • Went back to school (Student)
  • Took a long, difficult camping trip (Survivalist)

Fifth Question: What of these do you value the most?

  • Community (Anarchist)
  • Scientific inquiry (Argonaut)
  • Freedom from oppression (Barsoomian)
  • Introspection and distance (Brinker)
  • Me, myself, and my money (Criminal)
  • Self-reliance (Extropian)
  • Exerting power (Hypercorp)
  • Security (Jovian)
  • Cultural heritage (Lunar/Orbital)
  • The right to self-define (Mercurial)
  • The study and safekeeping of history (Reclaimer)
  • Hedonism (Scum)
  • Living the high life (Socialite)
  • Civic duty (Titanian)
  • The status quo (Venusian)
  • Local politics (Regional)

Final Question

The chest is open.

Option 1) “Are you afraid to die?” - The chest is empty. Scene pans to outside the simulation, where the players’ main bodies are just about the destroy the server containing their illegal, compromised forks.

Option 2) “Do you remember who you are now?” - The players are sucked into the chest, taken out of the simulation, and sleeved into the bodies rolled for question 2.

Monday, February 24, 2020

Blood Slaves of the Conqueror Worm


What the Fuck are Vampires Anyway?

Vampires are a narrative construct, a memetic lifeform. They live in your head and reproduce through bad urban fantasy potboilers. They're imaginary, but not harmless: they can, and often will, lead to fatal mistakes when dealing with things that can actually bite you.

Vampires are a memetic virus (as per the EE book) and will cause the infected to either believe that they themselves are a vampire, or that anyone who even vaguely fits the infectee's idea of a vampire is a vampire. They will be completely blind to the signs of a Victiscolex infestation.

Blood Slaves of the Conqueror Worm

Vampires don't exist, but Haemohelotes Victiscolex does.


No bigger than grains of sand or rice to begin with, little beads of translucent jelly floating freely in the water, waiting for a host. They want humans, they can only mature in humans, but they will burrow into the gum linings of other mammals as transportation. If there are too many any they can find no blood to sustain them they will bloom, turning the waters scab-red and killing everything within in their own death throes.

If they manage to find their way into a human, they will burrow in the tongue and begin to grow, lengthen, solidify. They form pale strings barbed with a single white tooth at one end and splitting halfway down into ten even-thinner tendrils. The first task is to burrow its gangliar tendrils to the brain, as after that is done there's no hope of the victim removing it.

Larvae count as a disease. They can be killed through thorough boiling water, Cure Disease, or the surgery of a doctor. The save vs. poisons does not prevent the infection, but success means that the target is aware of it. The infection takes lvl + INT modifier days to complete.


The larval worm has devoured the victim's tongue and finished its work on the brain. The frontal lobe is gone, the lizard brain is rewired. The person is dead, self-awareness snuffed out, but at this point in the process the ghoul has not gone completely feral - they can still use tools, they still wear the rags of their former life, they can mimic the actions of life. Their eyes are sensitive to light, their skin has gone pallid, they feast on flesh and blood.

Ghouls have the vampire powers Darkness Affinity, Unnatural Strength, and Paralyzing Bite


The ghoul has reached the precipice of metamorphosis, and the transition to its mature form requires flesh. They are filled with a terrible hunger, distending and bloating on accumulated mass as maggots on a corpse. When the time has come, they will drag themselves to a body of water - fresh, salty, sewage - for the final change.

Feasters have the powers Darkness Affinity, Claws, and Poisonous Bite


After the cocoon of pockmarked skin bursts open like a rotting tomato, the thing that remains is not entirely a car-sized mass of tumors, not entirely squidlike, and not entirely unlike a jellyfish made of raw ground beef. The cyst is now capable of spawning viable larvae, and has developed a method of achieving this while simultaneously increasing its own mass - specialized larvae that cannot progress past the ghoul stage will be spawned, and these lureghouls will then be used to draw in unsuspecting and chemically-addled humans to the cyst, where they will be broken down for meat, bone, and zygotes.

Lureghouls  have the powers Darkness Affinity and Hypnotic Gaze.


The largest cysts will grow to bus-sized cronenberg nightmares with up to a dozen linked lureghouls, and sometimes even further (rumors persist of the Zaratan, the island-sized elder). By this point they are biologically immortal, and will only die through violence. Recent behavioral studies have shown that elders will, after an active period of some decades, will seek out deeper waters and descend into the oceanic abyss (burrowing themselves in mud for a hibernative stasis if this is not available). They are heading for the vents, that much is clear, but the submersible sent to investigate further stropped transmitting will before reaching its destination.

Sunday, February 23, 2020

Blame The Discord for This Post About Malazan

Some folks in the OSR Discord goaded me into a review, and they are gonna get a god-damn review.

Let's talk about Steven Erikson's Malazan Book of the Fallen.

The One Million Scolville Summary

The Malazan Book of the Fallen is a bloated, incomprehensible ten-novel series in the 'sword-and-shit' subgenre

[That is, the genre dominated by totalitarian empires, professional assassins, sexual violence, no one washing their hands, and gigantic neon signs declaring THE WORLD IS BAD, DO YOU GET IT?]

characterized by never explaining anything, repeatedly jettisoning supposedly important plot points and characters, the most emo elves you ever done seen, woefully inadequate maps, obvious novelized GM notes, a major antagonist that isn't introduced until the back half of the final book, and the complete lack of anything that could be construed as a temporally-coherent timeline. The supplementary novels by Ian C. Esslemont are worse.

And yet...

I loved it once. A college fling of eighteen months or so that I spent too much money on and got unhealthily emotionally invested in. We've all been there.

This review will be mostly negative, but this is my bad book breakup bias coming through - there is actually good stuff here. There's actually a lot of good stuff, but I wouldn't recommend the effort of trying to find it to a single living soul. Lots of people online cite the "it doesn't hold your hand" as a positive trait, and my love of Book of the New Sun would make me a hypocrite if I said that they were entirely wrong... but all four parts of Book of the New Sun have the same page count as a single Malazan volume and I found BotNS to have significantly more emotional satisfaction for me at the end.

All right. The hot air is out for the time being. Where were we?

Notable documentary series Brooklyn Nine-Nine has a joke where Terry's favorite fantasy novel is a gigantic doorstopper with a silly name, and the similarly absurdly-named characters and events within are mentioned with absolutely no context and incredible enthusiasm. It's a clear pastiche.

Malazan is that book in reality. A parade of made-up terms with apostrophes in them, dumped upon the reader with no explanation through narrative voice and only very rarely through character exposition. Considering the sheer amount that is in here, that might be a good thing, but the end result is drowning in chaff. Everything feels like it comes out of nowhere with no context or connective tissue, and after a while it collapses under its own weight, while simultaneously feeling like there is nothing under the hood at all. Yet, it is compelling in its own way. Writing this review and browsing the wiki is dredging up some dusty old feelings of wonder, seeing all this stuff to discover and catalogue and tie into the great whole of the thing. Erikson is, at the least, utterly devoted to the creation of something his own.

It's very painfully clear, even more than in regards to the obvious player characters, that this series started as a tabletop campaign, and these are his GM notes put in the absolute wrong medium. One gets the feeling that he wanted to write a history textbook or encyclopedia. I wish he had, because diagetic in-universe documents with fake citations are my jam, and piecing together and grander story from fragmentary records in a Dark Souls or Destiny way is super fun if done well. At the very least, that approach would have saved us the tedium of yet another chapter about the god-damn mopey elves.

The elves (the Tiste, rather) are insufferable, and every moment they are on the page. It's survivable enough when literal-brooding-anime-swordsman-with-a-cursed-sword-played-absolutely-straight Anomander Rake is the only one featured, but then more of them show up and it's eventually revealed that there are three entire civilizations of these mopey assholes. All of them, every single one, just mopes and mopes and mopes about how unbearable immortality is. Three entire factions of elves who all hate each other, the world, themselves, and the continued existence of things, all of whom, get this you won't believe it, have nothing to do with the main storyline. Rake just kinda shows up sometimes and the others are all in their own world, except when its time to bog down books 9 & 10 with interminable battle scenes of elves I don't care about. They are the best representative of all the things in the series that just don't work.

But what is the main plotline, you might ask? I will summarize.

  • Basics: Malazan empire exists. Emperor got offed by the head of the secret police, she's an idiot running everything into the ground.
  • Books 1 and 3: The empire's decade-long military campaign on a completely different continent.
  • Books 2 and 6: On another completely different continent, colonies are in open rebellion, everything is fucked. Death march time! Book 6 is when the reinforcements finally show up and they're able to mostly put the fires out with help from veterans of books 1 and 3.
  • Books 4 and 8: Side stories.
  • Books 5 and 7: Let's go to another another completely different continent, one that the Malazans aren't currently invading, and have a completely different storyline that ties in with the other two at the very end when they do invade, but not for different reasons.
  • Books 9 and 10: The three main threads now converged, time to go solve the problem and do the thing. Padded out with at least four sideplots that go nowhere and are only tangentially connected to the main characters and the actual end goal, another death march across a desert, and this was originally supposed to be one book. There is actually a major plot thread that is resolved, but not in a satisfying way.

If you cut out 4,5,8 merged 9 and 10, and then applied an editor who was not deliberately negligent, you'd actually have a really good story. Sleek and healthy like a well-rested big cat. Use novellas and sidestories for the rest (something that he has already done!). Or even better, forgo the novel entirely as a literary form and get experimental with something more effective at organizing all these worldbuilding notes.

Going further in depth would be running in circles - There is more material than one can feasibly summarize, and for a note of positivity, here is a bullet list of all the cool things I can remember.
  • Immortal orcs with hyper-powerful ice magic that spend all their time being goof-offs
  • The once-richest man in the world tossed all his wealth in the river because it was only worth anything when it was fun to achieve. He lives in a tenement with his butler / assistant / caretaker (who is actually a major god of the sea).
  • Undead armies of neanderthals. Also, dinosaurs with swords for hands.
  • Man becomes god, uses newfound position to fuck with people constantly and hang around with man-eating shadow-hounds.
  • There's an entire civilization that rides around on giant dragonflies.
  • Book 2 is just really, really solid all around, as it's well before exhaustion kicks in and is mostly self contained. 
  • Notably racially diverse in casting, though the treatment of queer characters definitely needed some help.
  • Book 8 was actually very emotionally satisfying, though that is absolutely because it was a contained side-story that had an actual ending point. This is in spite of the other side story about even more stupid elves.
  • The main military unit are sappers, which means regular creative use of explosives.
  • Magic evolves and branches over time and is exactly as messy as that would imply.
  • The fan art for this series has an unnaturally high average level of quality.

Final Notes

A review of a book is a snapshot of the reviewer, and it should be obvious my feelings remain complicated. Opinions of myself at the time I was engrossed with the series have bled into my opinion on the books themselves, for a lot of the reason I liked the books at the time was the feeling of self-importance (elitism, even) that came with it - part in parcel for a younger, dumber, more assholish me. I slip into treating the books as representative of myself during that time and that is certainly unfair to some extent.

But then I see yet another thread praising the series as another work of genius for the same exaggerated reasons I once gave (It's so complex, and therefore good! You have to work at it, which means you get to weed out the casuals! The constant suffering is meant to drive home a central theme of compassion and isn't just an exhausting monotonous slog!), while simultaneously recommending it to everyone with thumbs and a pulse, and I think to myself "wait, no, it's not that unfair."

Whomst among us can even say. Books are a strange magic, and we readers all the stranger for how they burrow into our brains and echo themselves among the neurons there.

Sunday, February 16, 2020

Adul-Atpah, Undercity of the Corpse

(This was all generated with Michael Raston's Infinigrad tables, for use with Esoteric Enterprises)

Adul-Atpah was one of the cthonic leviathans, those beings who sleep away the eons deep in the underworld and whose dreams seep into the stone and bone around them. Dreams that became a city of narrow streets, leprosy-grey stone veined with scab red.

The inhabitants are human, but they are not the humans who have livedunder the light of the sun for a long, long time.

An ixionic false-sun offers dim light, but the perpetual haze prevents it from ever shining particularly brightly.

I. The Gate of the Thirty-Three Heresies

A misshapen, crumbling ziggurat of red clay whose peak is forever cloaked with clouds. Its tiers and terraces are engraved with layers of bas reliefs, monsters pulled from the nightmares of Adul-Atpah. 
  • It is the primary means of entry from upper layers of the underworld and the surface. 
  • Its chambers and stairways are covered with desecrated religious iconography. By tradition, new visitors are encouraged to add their own.
  • It is infested with small, monkey-like automata made of clay powered by tiny demon liquor engines. They rove in packs and with steal anything that catches their burning eyes, which is anything that they can grab without getting caught. They have a nasty bite and will attempt to lure visitors into a sense of security with seemingly harmless antics. Their nests are troves of stolen items.

II. The Corpus

The war with the White silk Veil was short, but devastating. While the cult of was driven from the city, Adul-Atpah was killed. Now for beings such as leviathans, death is mere interruption, the city has not recovered: The central district surrounding the gate has taken on the aspects of flesh and bone and organ, as if some grand
  • Many buildings remain abandoned or half-demolished. Rubble and wreckage remains everywhere. Cleanup and repair efforts never seen to go anywhere, thwarted by the ontological fallout of Adul-Atpah's death.
  • The Dreamers of Adul-Atpah have remained here, despite the sharp decrease in their numbers and the loss of their god. The after-effects of the war destabilized them, and their untethered dreams have become chaotic and toxic to those around them. They are still nominally the chief faction of the city, but only by name.

III. The Unclaimed Quarter

A mostly-unpopulated region on the border between the Liquor Farms and the Temple District, leveled during the war and now serving as in-fill for its neighbors.
  • Nearly all maps of the city come from before the war, meaning that none of the streets here have been mapped properly and nothing is labeled with an up-to-date name. Most of the shrines here are covers for liquor-farming operations, and most farm operations are hidden temples.
  • Runoff from the liquor farms has seeped into the ground, causing native slimes and oozes to grow terribly large and uncomfortably volatile.
  • These oozes are cleaned up by egg-shaped creatures with leathery, baggy skins, too-skinny legs, and too-big mouths with too-human teeth. They're horrible and will eat and break anything that isn't an ooze that gets between them and lunch. 

IV. The Demon Liquor Farms

Demon liquor is perfectly fine in a raw state, but proper occultists and gentlebeings of taste demand the refined stuff. It's good money, great money, and so the refineries of the Czapath belch oil and smoke and fire into the shimmering clouds at all hours.
  • The excess waste of the refinery process can still be used as fuel. Terribly cheap and dirty-burning. The district is festooned with iron lamps (despite the general flammability of everything else), and the inhabitants will even mix dregs with wax or tallow for candles.
  • Most of the main thoroughfares have been overtaken by rail lines, where massive carriages ferry the components and products of the refinery process. Pedestrians will either have to catch a ride, or use the knot of side streets even more tangled than the norm of Adul-Atpah.
  • The extraction devices (read: iron maidens) used to procure fresh liquor from living demons have absorbed enough infernal energies to spring to life on their own. They demand sacrifice of fresh / new / unusual bodies and blood, and the servants they procure from themselves are more than happy to carry them to new neighborhoods.

V. District of Feasts

Fog-choked terraces of farmland crawl up the outer slope of the city, taking advantage of the leftover divine vitality of the city's dead patron to supply food for the entire city and regions beyond.
  • The fogs are worse here than anywhere else in the city, drifting in from the liquor farms and never dissipating. The light of the false-sun rarely penetrates the sky of this district, leaving it a place of endless night broken only by the lamplight spilling from doors and windows.
  • A constant surplus of food gives the district an atmosphere of festivity and excess, despite the constant gloom. Enter any given door and you will find a feast. They have run out of names for the foods crafted here and have fallen back upon inventing languages to fill the gap.
  • The distinct is often visited by spotted slug-like beings from deeper in the underworld, come to test their arts and sciences on the populace.

VI. The Leviathan Pits

The dream-larvae of Adul-Atpah and the godling parasites that burrowing in its flanks can be found here, where the ground has opened up into the steaming pits of primal oneiric sludge.Shoddy, leaning shacks and tenements cluster around pit lips, as if hoping to fall.
  • The pits are run by a guild of butchers who supplement the stocks of the District of Feasts with meat cut from the larvae. In terms of raw factional power they are tied with their rivals the Czapath at the peak of the city's politics.
  • The butchers are fond of publicly displaying prime cuts, aberrant organs, sarkic curiosities in glass boxes hung from eaves, poles, and windows, giving the district the alternative name of "The Street of Curious Cuts".
  • The butchers are led by the Union of Knowing Friends, masters of the empathic arts who use their skills to swell the guild's ranks and place moles in other organizations.

VII. The Dead Quarter

Death is strange in the underworld. Sometimes it doesn't stick quite right, and folks have to be careful about what they do. It can't be pushed to the side. Here, as elsewhere, the dead have been given a section of the city of their own, so they cannot be ignored. Blackened columns and markers are pushed together like a jaw with too many teeth.
  • The mausoleum-lined streets are a maze (again, even by the standards of Adul-Atpah)
  • The few plazas in the district are filled with continuous bonfires, where the dead are reduced to ash and cracked bone, the byproducts of life that can be safely interred.
  • The Lightkeepers who tend the bonfires have become so dedicated to their task of keeping the city safe that they have been consumed by a desire to increase the size of the bonfires. Bring them a gift of fuel, or they might get other ideas of how you can pay their toll.

VIII. Ironmonger District

The city's industrial center, exporting crafts and metalworks out into the underworld. Brutalist factories whose flanks bear henna-patterns of rust and bored occultists on lunch break.
  • The dead dreams of Adul-Atpah are strongest here. It's not safe to sleep in the district without aid, and the neighborhood watch must keep the nightmares at bay.
  • Do not fear the cloaked sentinels you might see on roof peaks or street corners or dead-end alleys. They are not part of the neighborhood watch. Again, do not fear them. If you had done anything that would give you reason to fear them, you would not be here.
  • The streets are filled with packs of feral dogs, who with military precision wage their war of domination against the union men and watch. A great Geyr Shepherd wearing a plumed general's cap leads them.

IX. The Market Grounds

The little city, the district of stands stalls and tents. A splash of color and noise against the rest of the city.
  • The Market Grounds are also home to the Silver Eye, the city's sole sanctioned gambling house. Here come the high-rollers, the high society of this god's corpse, to play the numbers at the market and go home with their stocks.
  • The chaos of the market is managed by the Cult of the Black Serpent, whose cannibals are branded across the face with the wyrm that eats its own tail. They are, all considered, fair in their management, and will only demand body parts as payment for high-severity infractions.
  • In the center of the Grounds, filling the fountain that once had the equestrian statue of some man who thought himself more heroic than he was, is a shuddering, oozing mass of fleshy sludge. It cannot die. You are free to try, there's a reward if you can.

X. The Temple District  

Mountains of rubbish fill up the gaps between jutting blades of rock. Where there is space, it is filled up with little temples and shrines to the gods that the city will permit. That they have been relegated to the dumping grounds in the city of the Thirty-Three heresies is not lost upon anyone.
  • The upheaval of the region is the remnants of a long-ago conflict with the Lithic Courts. Some members of the expeditionary force have remained behind, and have taken to implanting shards of themselves into those who stumble upon them and inevitably offend them, just to see what happens with such a union of alien chemistries.

Friday, February 14, 2020

Expanded Pandora Gate Map saves the day yet again.

The Pandora Gates are easily my favorite part of Eclipse Phase. Unfortunately, the book dedicated to them is a mess I'd never recommend to anyone and a poster child for "good idea, terrible execution".  This is an attempt to fix that, consolidating the contents of the proper Gatecrashing book with content from the blogs Farcast, Seedware, and H-Rep.

The map only shows the five Sol system gates (Vulcanoid, Mars, Pandora, Fissure, Discord) and connective systems between them.The vast majority of extrasolar planets are a single transit away from one of the five main gates, as detailed below.

Planets marked with a * are connector systems..

GC is Gatecrashing, FC is Farcast, SW is Seedware, HR is H-Rep.

Planets with a dearth of information got a friendly [REDACTED] from me, because that's a solid way to get something from nothing.

Vulcanoid Gate

Found in the Vulcanoid asteroid V-2011 Caldwell, owned by the TerraGenesis Corporation. They'll work with basically anyone, going real gung-ho on colonization and terraforming efforts.
  1. Aerie (GC) - Watch out for this one, the gate is free-floating in orbit around its parent world.
  2. Chrysaor (GC) - Moon of a hot Jupiter. Only 51 LY from Earth, but nothing else noteworthy.
  3. Hiranyaksha (GC) - Largest colonized world with highest gravity at 1.9G
  4. IronSky (HR) - Terrestrial world that once held a diverse global biosphere before the onset of a "Blast Winter". A single cataclysmic event ejected enough particulate into the atmosphere to block out sunlight, leaving the world with a permanent grey overcast and only extremeophile bacteria.
  5. Mockingbird (GC) - Notable primarily for being destroyed by the inhabitants of Rorty. Reclamation efforts have [DATA EXPUNGED]
  6. Piazza III (FC) - A hot, humid, swampy, fungus-encrusted world. Home to the urvinoids, sluglike beings weighing over a kiloton whose brain and stomach are the same organ.
  7. Portal* (GC) - A frozen terrestrial world notable for containing six gates, all within 1 km of each other. The primary settlement, Isra, is the launch point for career autonomist crashers.
  8. Sky Ark (GC) - A terrestrial planet nearly a mirror to early Earth. TerraGenesis has established it as a reserve world, and has begun to resurrect and rehabilitaate as many species and environments of old Earth has possible. This includes creatures that were extinct before the Fall, ancient megafauna and even neogenic dinosaurs.
  9. Sunrise* (GC) - Life-bearing, tidally locked world, bearing seven different gates along the equator and signs of Iktomi settlement around those gates - the windharps, delicate structures that play musical tones on the constant winds
  10. Takshaka (GC) - Backwater colony. Not noteworthy, save for a disastrous event wherein [REDACTED].
  11. Willowane (GC) - Artifacts found. Further information [REDACTED].

Martian Gate

On lock by the corporate bastards of the Planetary Consortium. Sees the most traffic, nearly all of it working for the Pathfinder Corporation.
  1. Arcadia / Overlook (GC) - A venusian world and its rocky moon. Colonization efforts are totally off the books, a single habitat for the oldest and richest gerontocrats the Consortium has in store where they shall never die.
  2. Ascension* (GC) - Consortium-run Earthlike world, home to largest human colony.
  3. Babylon* (GC) - A sun-baked, tidally locked world. The surface displays recent significant impact craters, and long-range telescopes have picked up some kind of vessel hiding out in the stellar corona.
  4. Bacchanalia (HR) - An earthlike world with significant volcanic activity due to tidal stresses from its three suns and large moon, which leaves many rare materials in easy reach near the surface and a sulphurous atmosphere. Outside investment mogul York Aston has flooded the colonization effort with funds in an attempt to make a prize party getaway world, a corporate competitor to Carnivale.
  5. Brak Kodel (GC) - A hot rockball whose sealed canyon habitats are home to horrifically altered TITAN experiments with captive transhuman populations. Whether or not it is a live infection vector remains unknown, but suspected.
  6. Chang-Er* (HR) - Prime terraforming real estate. Alien artifact ("The Eye") several hundred kilometers in diameter floats tethered above the surface, casting a gravitational anomaly that prevents the tidal effects of the planet's five moons.
  7. Dreamgate (FC) - A mirror image of Mars as it was and was thought to be. The oceans are long gone, but the towers and cities of the inhabitants (and most importantly, their computers) are still active. Some folks get lost in the xenoMesh, never to pull their egos out.
  8. Haplopelma (GC) - Minor Iktomi ruins nonetheless attract throngs of xenodeist pilgrims.
  9. Bromeliad / Harker (HR) - An icy terrestrial world and its nondescript moon. Pockets of life can exist in regions where volcanic activity has cut through the glacial cover. Would be a prime target for colonization, save for the packs of psychovore aliens that are clearly not related to anything else on the planet. Corporate is very, very interested in this place.
  10. Krypton (GC) A resort world for the corporate hyperelite, crystal fields under a bright sky-filling nebula. The indentured Martian infomorphs brought in to work the resort are plotting a rebellion.
  11. Nihilus* (HR) - An asteroid mined out by a species long vanished - only bits of tools remain. A group of Buddhists are in the planning stages of building a monastery there.
  12. Nirvana (GC) - A free-floating gate in orbit around a pulsar. The facility there, due to its incredible security, is used both as prison and testing grounds for exsurgent-related experiments under the Consortium's eye.
  13. Nótt (GC) - An icy moon and a corporate research station made significantly more exciting by whatever is stalking the research teams outside the habitat.
  14. Nova York (GC) - [DATA EXPUNGED]
  15. Olaf (GC) - An honest-to-god dyson sphere, built around the red dwarf of a binary pair. The atmosphere is suitable for an unmodified human, the local life isn't particularly dangerous, we've mapped less than 1% of the surface, and it's got an active orbital defense system that'll shoot down anything launched towards space. The interior of the sphere is a complete unknown.
  16. Ruby (FC) - A lumpy planetoid clearly mined in the past for its radioactive materials. Orbiting above is a ring-shaped structure that will draw in nearby objects and launch them at 30 gs of acceleration towards a nearby asteroid belt, which looks like it used to be a single planet. Oops.
  17. Templeton's World (GC) - A Consortium colony that went dark and defected to the Commonwealth when it was determined that the settlers were considered illegal copies.
  18. Tirian (GC) - Hot rockball home to the Singer Institute for Biological Anomalies, who are kind of folks who like doing experiments on outliers of the uplift process. Definitely slept through their courses on consent and ethics.
  19. Thera (HR) - A slushy, cold waterworld. The only land is a chain of volcanic islands, once of which bears the Labyrinth - a maze hundreds of square kilometers on the ground, with walls a kilometer high and passages only 6m accross. No one has reached the center.
  20. Vohaul (GC) - Venusian hellhole world used exclusively as a garbage dump for toxic and exotic materials. Home to a developing sapient species of silicon-based organisms living in the sulfurous lakes of the surface. Transhumanity has no idea about them.

Pandora Gate

Located on Pandora, Saturnian orbit. Run by Gatekeeper, under direction of the Titan Commonwealth cyberdemocracy. Lots of exploratory missions.
  1. Apocalypta (HR) - Hot Martian world home to vast complexes of monolithic pyramids and towers, all containing elaborate vaults touched only by ultrasound for millions of years. Expeditions to the vaults have been put on pause after exploration hit the end of the unsecured sections of the complexes. The builders remain anonymous.
  2. Babylon* (GC) - A sun-baked, tidally locked world. The surface displays recent significant impact craters, and long-range telescopes have picked up some kind of vessel hiding out in the stellar corona.
  3. Candee Apple (FC) - Opens on an island on a pristine earthlike world, home to a species of apelike beings on the cusp of sapience. The leave only footprints factions in the research corp that found the place have held majority so far, but who knows when that will break.
  4. Corse (GC) - A recently-discovered and incredibly distant rocky moon of a typical Jovian giant. A dense, nearby dust cloud (and something indistinct within it) can be made out with telescopes. More concerningly, someone was here recently - not aliens - and they built themselves a ship and headed off towards the cloud. Then they changed course and started heading back towards the gate.
  5. Droplet (GC) - A water-rich (only 8% land) terrestrial world with incredible biodiversity, plus the archaeological remnants of three vanished alien species: the native Amphibs, the Iktomi, and some other spoecies that built at least one settlement on the ocean floor. Of note is "The Toadstool", a curiously shaped stone peak.
  6. Dyggvi (GC) - Ice moon, first colony consider to be a direct extension of a Sol polity (in this case, the Commonwealth)
  7. Echo IV/ V (GC) - Two terrestrial planets. Echo IV has no gate, but is filled with a bustling, megafauna-rich ecosystem. Echo V has the gate, Iktomi ruins, and the complete and total devastation of its entire biosphere at some point in the past.
  8. Indra (HR) - A cold, lifeless Martian world with enough atmosphere to maintain some liquid water. Surface is covered in deep impact craters, all of which line up very nicely with good places to build a colony. Someone bombed this place from orbit, and one of those ships lies buried under just underground - with the reactor still on.
  9. Just-in-Case / Basilica* (GC) - A young and lifeless terrestrial world and it's young and lifeless moon, similar to a very early Earth. It is being set up as a backup world, a planet that could house millions of refugees in case of existential disaster. Cut off the gates, and there's still plenty of untouched planets nearby in its local cluster. Most of the major (non-autonomist) polities are involved - except the Consortium. No invitation for the hypercaptialists. Or for Firewall.
  10. Moravec (GC) - Terrestrial world with a lively oceanic biosphere. The landmasses have very little life, likely extinct due to climate change. Likewise can be found trace remnants of a sapient species, including a distributed computer network. It is abandoned. Where did the uploads go?
  11. Moria (GC) - An icy dwarf planet. The immense caves which house the colony are heated by geothermal activity.
  12. Portal* (GC) - A frozen terrestrial world notable for containing six gates, all within 1 km of each other. The primary settlement, Isra, is the launch point for career autonomist crashers.
  13. Spark (HR) - Tidally-locked vesperian planet. Huge temperature differences mean constant, extreme winds. Crust contains high levels of metallic salts, leading nearly all local life to store or generate electrical current
  14. Synergy (GC) - The second colony ever established went dark for five years, emerged as a networked hive-mind.
  15. Tanaka (GC) - Moon of a hot Jupiter, home to five warring fungal megacolonies, all of which are universally hostile to tranhumans.
  16. Wormwood (GC) - Thousands of kilometers of squirming, tangled tunnels carved out of what is presumed to be an asteroid. No exit to the surface has yet been found.

Fissure Gate

Located on Oberon, Uranian orbit. Overseen by the Love and Rage anarchist collective, and as such is open to anyone with good rep.
  1. Bluewood (GC) - Terrestrial planet and one of the major autonomist colonies. Named for the forest that covers almost 60% of the single landmass and the vibrant azure trees that make it up. The entire ecosystem seems engineered - there are no predators, it self-maintains, it strikes back if threatened, and it actively grows to encompass settlements built within it.
  2. Carnivale (GC) - A bunch of extreme hedonist anarchists partying it up on an paradisical earthlike world. Even the grass will give you a high. Only line is consent, everything else is on the table. This entry has aged very poorly in the last decade.
  3. Emmerich's World (HR) - Earth-sized moon of the superJovian Anchorhead. Great night sky, local bacterial and fungal life provides a bounty of fun narcotic and hallucinogenic toxins. The gate to Nihilus is built atop a spiral-helix-pyramidal structure on the opposite pole from the main gate; within the structure is the WETWARE AUTOMATA artifact, that triggers compulsive and repetitive minor actions in nearby sapients.
  4. Etched (GC) - [DATA EXPUNGED]
  5. Fortean (GC) - Icy moon host to a bunch of really out there researchers big into neogenic life, genesplicing, and cryptozoology. Makers of specialty morphs.
  6. G'harne (HR) - A Titanian ice world, boasting a robust hydrocarbon-and-ammonia-based ecology. Impressive volcanoes. 
  7. Isolation (HR) - via Carnivale gate only. An icy moon of a Neptunian giant (Mirror) with a high albedo and pretty rings. Used as a cool down colony for folks from Carnivale. Exploration has found twenty-six precision-carved cliffside alcoves of unknown maker and purpose.
  8. Krapotkin (GC) - Icy moon, anarchist settlement, somebody once told me the world was [DATA EXPUNGED].
  9. Lassiter (GC) - via Carnivale gate only. Does not officially exist. A tiny moonlet orbiting the gas giant Lassiter, now home to one of Firewall's friendly Promethean AI, Asterius. It's already begun disassembling the other moons.
  10. Logos (GC) - Moon of an ice giant. Colony established by AGIs wanting to get away from transhuman societal strictures and norms.
  11. Luca* (GC) - A cold marslike world with a native biosphere. A native sapient species was wiped out by an asteroid impact about a thousand years ago. Conflicts between anarchist preservationists and TerraGenesis terraforming efforts are commonplace, and get even more heated when folks discuss resurrecting the lucans from the preserved bodies that have been found.
  12. Merowech (HR) - A frozen, airless, tidally locked world. Crystalline artifacts colloquially called "elf trees" can be found on the day side, which give off a soothing humming when in an atmosphere demonstrate anomalous responses to outside stimuli (ie, crumbling under the higher gravity of a planet, but not that of a rotating habitat)
  13. Nightfall* (HR) - A rocky moon with extreme temperatures and high radiation. Enough resources to spark conflict between TerraGenesis resource extraction and autonomist synthmorph settlers.
  14. Portal* (GC) - A frozen terrestrial world notable for containing six gates, all within 1 km of each other. The primary settlement, Isra, is the launch point for career autonomist crashers.
  15. Tempest* (HR) - An ocean world with a venusian atmosphere. Notable primarily for the permanent hurricane caused by the heat and rotation of the planet and the aerostat filled with art and non-active servant bots built by a single, vanished colonist.
  16. Veronica* (HR) - A slightly-more-habitable martian type world originally settled by a few bands of anarchists. Quiet and unnoeworthy, until the gate to Ascension opened up and the Consortium started dumping thousands of its own colonists onto the world.
  17. Wonderland (HR) - Heavy, hot atmosphere, home to a single, highly-differentiated colonial fungal megaorganism. Ground-penetration scans reveal widespread tunnel networks with clear nanotech toolmarks.
  18. Ymir (FC) - A banded gas giant. Gate situated on a small icy moon. Upper atmosphere of the planet home to pods of gigantic invertebrates nicknamed "frost giants".

Discord Gate

Located on Eris. Run by the Go-Nin group and a band of ultimates who are very vocal about being over the whole morality thing and have been fighting back and forth with fringe exhuman clades. Even getting out there is difficult, and it's unpleasant when you get there.
  1. Giza (GC) - An earthlike world with early plant life, bearing hundreds of black pyramidal structures. These are interfaces to what appears to be a galaxy-spanning anonymous interspecies chat room with aggressive content moderation bots. Everyone is paranoid about information leaks. 15% chance of helpful comunication, 35% chance of trolls.
  2. Mishipizheu / Nanabozho (GC) -A life-bearing water world with a rocky moon, famous for colorful reefs of gas-bladder floaters. Its sun will soon run out of hydrogen to burn (though it should by all means last much longer) and begin to contract, freezing the planet solid. Its moon has less gravity than it should; hypothesized to be hollow or artificial.
  3. Ne No Kuni (GC) - Metal-rich cthonian, home to largest exoworld mining operation.
  4. Oyamatsumi & Konohana* (HR) - A high-pressure CO2 world bearing impact craters believed to be from the debris of a large space-faring vessel. Its red-and-white moon, Konohana, is so strictly geologically stratified that it is clearly artificial, though its poisonous atmosphere makes investigating whatever is under the crust extremely difficult.
  5. Rorty* (GC) - Cold, lifeless world home to exhuman dreadnaught-minds chased there by Go-Nin's ultimates, planning on further raids of other colonies.
  6. Skoyz (GC) - [REDACTED]
  7. Tartarus (SW) - A rogue planet, a big black iceball drifting between suns with a complex microbial ecosystem feeding off the radioactive elements at the bottom of the subsurface ocean.
  8. Vortex (GC) - Gate is suspended in the depths of a gas giant's lower atmosphere. Leaving the gate proper would be instant death from the pressure.

Connector Systems

  • Ascension (GC) - Consortium-run Earthlike world, home to largest human colony.
  • Babylon (GC) - A sun-baked, tidally locked world. The surface displays recent significant impact craters, and long-range telescopes have picked up some kind of vessel hiding out in the stellar corona.
  • Boreas (HR) - An icy moon of a subNeptunian giant. The survey mission to found a second settlement vanished in the subsurface tunnels, which appear now to mirror TITAN structures on Iapetus. Singularity seekers have started to gain access to the world, and are being turned away at the gate.
  • Cairn (HR) - The hellish tomb world of an insect-like species that was driven extinct by runaway greenhouse effect. Pathfinder and TerraGenesis are squabbling rights to the site,
  • Chang-Er (HR) - Prime terraforming real estate. Alien artifact ("The Eye") several hundred kilometers in diameter floats tethered above the surface, casting a gravitational anomaly that prevents the tidal effects of the planet's five moons.
  • Cocytus (HR) - A cold, dark world orbiting a brown dwarf formation. Nearly all light to reach surface is infrared. Massive doses of ionizing radiation make long term survival difficult. The atmosphere is thick enough to support a biosphere capable of gathering energy from magnetic interference.
  • Emmerich's World (HR) - Earth-sized moon of the superJovian Anchorhead. Great night sky, local bacterial and fungal life provides a bounty of fun narcotic and hallucinogenic toxins. The gate to Nihilus is built atop a spiral-helix-pyramidal structure on the opposite pole from the main gate; within the structure is the WETWARE AUTOMATA artifact, that triggers compulsive and repetitive minor actions in nearby sapients.
  • Just-in-Case / Basilica (GC) - A young and lifeless terrestrial world and its young and lifeless moon, similar to a very early Earth. It is being set up as a backup world, a planet that could house millions of refugees in case of existential disaster. Cut off the gates, and there's still plenty of untouched planets nearby in its local cluster. Most of the major (non-autonomist) polities are involved - except the Consortium. No invitation for the hypercaptialists. Or for Firewall.
  • Luca (GC) - A cold marslike world with a native biosphere. A native sapient species was wiped out by an asteroid impact about a thousand years ago. Conflicts between anarchist preservationists and TerraGenesis terraforming efforts are commonplace, and get even more heated when folks discuss resurrecting the lucans from the preserved bodies that have been found.
  • Nightfall (HR) - A rocky moon with extreme temperatures and high radiation. Enough resources to spark conflict between TerraGenesis resource extraction and autonomist synthmorph settlers.
  • Nihilus (HR) - An asteroid mined out by a species long vanished - only bits of tools remain. A group of Buddhists are in the planning stages of building a monastery there.
  • Oyamatsumi & Konohana (HR) - A high-pressure CO2 world bearing impact craters believed to be from the debris of a large space-faring vessel. Its red-and-white moon, Konohana, is so strictly geologically stratified that it is clearly artificial, though its poisonous atmosphere makes investigating whatever is under the crust extremely difficult.
  • Rorty (GC) - Cold, lifeless world home to exhuman dreadnaught-minds chased there by Go-Nin's ultimates, planning on further raids of other colonies.
  • Portal (GC) - A frozen terrestrial world notable for containing six gates, all within 1 km of each other. The primary settlement, Isra, is the launch point for career autonomist crashers.
  • Set (HR) - [DATA EXPUNGED]
  • Simulacra (HR) - A barren terrestrial world with a toxic atmosphere and a few extremophile bacteria. Absolutely nothing of interest, despite the area around the gate being a perfect replica of London in 1920, sans inhabitants. The simulation breaks down the further one goes from Charing Cross, however, devolving into unfinished buildings and fractal streets.
  • Sunrise (GC) - Life-bearing, tidally locked world, bearing seven different gates along the equator and signs of Iktomi settlement around those gates - the windharps, delicate structures that play musical tones on the constant winds
  • Tempest (HR) - An ocean world with a venusian atmosphere. Notable primarily for the permanent hurricane caused by the heat and rotation of the planet and the aerostat filled with art and non-active servant bots built by a single, vanished colonist.
  • Ulmo (HR) - An ocean world with a thin atmosphere, now home to a growing population of uplifted octopi, cetaceans, and amphibious humanoid morphs.
  • Venom (HR) - A molten, Co2-choked world with seas of sulfuric acid. There's literally nothing here.
  • Veronica (HR) - A slightly-more-habitable martian type world originally settled by a few bands of anarchists. Quiet and unnoeworthy, until the gate to Ascension opened up and the Consortium started dumping thousands of its own colonists onto the world.
  • Void Reef (HR) - A band of resource-rich asteroids in a mostly-empty system. The gate location contains traces of fossilized marine life, indicating it was once part of a life bearing planet. A hivemind nest of Rortian-allied exhumans have settled in the Reef, lashing out at the Go-Nin miners sent in-system.


There were  whole lot of fanmade planets that didn't have gates listed, including thirty-seven different locations from the Renegade Octopus blog alone. I decided to not use these just to make it easier on myself.

What We Learned

  • Most of the fanmade planets interested me more than the default ones in GC, and even those that weren't were much easier to read on account of being shorter and single-column.
  • No one, not even Posthuman Studios, likes the Discord Gate. For good reason, I say, exhumans and ultimates always struck me as two bands of terrible folks who deserve each other.
  • Please please please please front your planet entries with tags for if it has a settlement, if it has life, what you need to wear to go outside etc. Open with those. That is stuff I as a sci-fi game referee absolutely need to know.
  • Carnivale (and the scum in general) sounded way better in 2010. It's bad. There's a very short list of folks I would trust to write hyper decadent sex drugs and rock & roll RPG material and none of them worked on this book.
  • Overwritten first-person narrative is guaranteed to make me have a bad time reading whatever game thing is being made. Give me bullet points.
  • Making a single interesting planet with interesting people is more worthwhile than an entire system of nothings.
  • If you only get a sentence to describe it, at least put something interesting there. I shouldn't have to dump [REDACTED]s in there to give it the appearance of something interesting.
  • There was a point I wanted to give up on this. Gatecrashing is a painful book to read, and I hate that it is compelling enough to drive me to do this out of love for the idea.

Wednesday, February 12, 2020

Esoteric Enterprises Exhibition

Dorohedoro is wonderful, go watch / read it.

All of this is canon, especially the things that contradict, but not all of them are canon in the same place.

Gospel of the Festival Squid

Koine Greek, Anonymous, 400s CE

A codex detailing the culture and customs of an unnamed island nation in the eastern Mediterranean. The island is said to come together during the late spring for a city-spanning celebration of excess and catharsis, heralded by the arrival of a gargantuan squid and its swarms of progeny in the city harbor to confers blessings for the entire week of the festival before it returns to the deeps.

Escape Rope and Magic Bullet

A heavy, frayed cord, the kind that tears up your hands with its fibrous splinters. A milk-white bullet that shines pearl-like under the light. These are grim, but effective, single-use methods of escaping the underworld; both are painless in application but do nothing to ease the psychological burden of their use. When used in the underworld, the user will return to the entrance by which they descended. If used on the surface, they will return the user to a prepared location.

Movement of the Constellations

The titans of the firmament do not rest still. They march and dance across the black sky, with movements so vast it becomes difficult to comprehend. There they debate, place dice with the universe, make love, give birth, war with each other. Can you imagine the smiting stroke of a celestial club, the spilling of bloody nebulae?

The Labyrinth

The underworld itself, the eternal and endless shifting maze that resides in the center of the world. The god-machine of cthonic bronze and lithic panoply that waits past those gigantic engraved gates set deep int the bedrock. The monster-haunted abode of the gods below.

Demon Liquor

The first demons were single-celled organisms that filled the world's oceans in the ages very near the beginning. All of those uncountable demons, buried by the incalculable weight of the miles and miles of stone above them and heated by the fires below, have been converted into an oily liquid, filled with clouds of bloody scarlet, abyssal blue, and bruise purple. It smells of pepper, sulfur, and undiluted grain alcohol. It tastes the same. It shimmers sickly and iridescently under light. It leaves behind a film on whatever it touches. It gives off a mirage haze in the heat. It flakes as it dries. It gets in the drinking water. It gets in the soil. It gets in the rain. It is mutagenic. It is carcinogenic. It lets you do magic.

Many-Faced Moon

A spherical golden mass of androgynous faces great and small; babbling, screaming, groaning, whispering. Slick black oil drips from lips and gums and teeth, leaks from the seams between masks, dissipating as it falls into a streaming trail stain on the sky. Orbits high above the earth - a second moon, smaller and closer than the first. To hear it is difficult, to discern its secret meaning yet impossible. It is dreaming.

National Restoration Party

The end result the terrible machine of power. A bunch of pasty-faced, turtle-necked old fascists that clawed out a fortress of business interests and misinformation to weather the Progressive Years, emerging to run on a platform of reversing civil rights legislation, overturning environmental protections, loosening corporate oversight, stamping down on the press, writing a blank check to the military, and brutal repression of the supernatural. They are currently in power, and this has given nearly-free reign to allied hate groups to terrorize vulnerable populations.

The Dissector

A glossy red sphere of opaque, nonreflective liquid. Hovers off the ground under its own power, average height of ~3 feet, has been seen to rise up to half a mile on one occasion. Highest clocked speed of 400 mph on that same occasion. Organisms brought within ten feet will be paralyzed, suspended in air, and cut into pieces as if by an invisible blade. Victims will remain alive through procedure, blood will remain in body, etc. When its curiosity has been sated, the organism will desiccate of all moisture and reduced to dust.

Happy Sailor Rum Company

There's an anchovy with a beard and a captain's hat on the label, smoking a pipe. The rum is dark and smells of nutmeg, allspice, orange peel. It goes down smooth, puts a fire in your belly and sometimes, just sometimes, you think you can hear the Cap'n talk to you through the haze. He says to drink more rum. Definitely drink more rum. There's something else, but you can't make it out. More rum should help with that.

Church of Saints and Watchers

The splitting of the monad drove God mad, an insane creator who could not care for their creation. Among the ranks of the ancient angels there were those fourteen Watchers descended from the golden realms of thought and fire, to share fragments of the divine wisdom with the inhabitants of the cooling universe so that they might not die in darkness and violence. This they did in ancient days and remained to watch and guard, but could not overstretch their influence lest God notice. They failed, the world fell into darkness and chaos anyway. They attempted again, visited a young woman and blessed her with their fourteen gifts and proclaimed that the child she bore would bring the world to the light. The child died of sickness in three months after birth. The woman took up the mantle instead and founded the church, first of the litany of saints.

Corbin and Cecil

They drive an old white van, rust in the wheelwells and scratches on the sides. Big red text reads SPEEDY MEAT DELIVERY underneath a smiling man embracing a smiling cow, smiling chicken, smiling pig. They say they're identical twins, but one looks like he got six inches cut off him and the scars have reshaped their faces. Bushy salt and pepper mustaches, brown flat caps, stained aprons. Can't place the accent.

The Convocation of Birds

The ranks of the Simurgh's priestly hierarchy may be easily distinguished by the color of their vestments. The Doves, who deal with matters of peace and diplomacy, wear white. Cardinals, who deal with the church's internal affairs, wear red. Crows, who deal in heresies and militant actions, wear black. Sparrows, whose place is with the poor, wear brown. The occasional Jay, who deals in arcane affairs, wears blue. Their holy days are migratory, announced by the bishop-augurs who read the entrails of their sacred avians. That all inducted members may speak the language of birds is a given.

The Cthonic Ecumene

A doomed attempt to form a demosoc polity that tied together the surface and underworld, founded in a major manufacturing city that could see that the coming post-industrial era would be their ruin. Despite the upswing in supernatural events and spike in dangerous sorcerous activity, it was mostly successful, until the winds shifted with the national election and the full weight of government-sanctioned violence was brought upon it. The Oikouménē Khthónios was murdered; hung from lamp posts, stood before the firing squads, dumped in the mass graves of the public parks. Long ago now, only sad memories remain.

DER0 Suits

The 0-Series Dungeon Exploration Rig comes complete with an integrated containment unit for a fetal Australopithicus demens. This allows the wearer to safely travel the lower levels of the underworld without falling prey to geographic or structural malleability, as well as access to the "air loom" mass communication methods used by those creatures. This suit's very existence constitutes a crime against humanity. 

The Afterlife Machine

There is no telling if the project would have been more successful had its proponents been less desperate; certainly all would have been much better off had they been less successful. An exclusion zone of four miles' radius has been cordoned off. Trespassers to be shot without warning. In twilight hours one can see a sort of fractal pattern shimmering on the air, like curtains of soap bubble

The Wasteland Children

Old Occitan, Anonymous, 1150s CE 

A lurid apocryphal work. Eve, pregnant with her third child, abandons a drunken, abusive Adam in the aftermath of Abel's death and Cain's exile and travels westward across the wasteland. Reaching the desolate coast near dawn, she finds an island where thousands of screech owls are landing to roost. Building a raft of reeds she paddles to the island to discover it is the home of Lilith, Adam's first wife, cursed to forever birth monsters in isolation. After a long dialogue between the two detailing the injustices that have befallen them, Eve decides to remain on the island. The remainder of the book details Eve's romantic and eventually sexual relationship with Lilith, the birth and youth of Seth, and a fragmentary story of Seth departing from the island with a party of his monstrous step-siblings for purpose unknown.

Bobbit Dogs

"Just a pack of mangy ferals, all thin and sick. Wouldn't have thought twice about them, but one of them stopped under the streetlight, one paw up like a pointer that heard something. I could see spines, thin ones like needles, running down its back. It didn't have a head, not a proper one, just this stump of one, but after a moment it fucking extended, wiggling around like a worm. Could see fangs on it long as my hand. Then it darted off after its pack. That neighborhood's fucking lost, mate, if things like that are roaming around."

Book of the 10 Families

Original Language and Date Unknown

A codex detailing the cosmic hierarchy of gods...
  1. Zodiac Gods
  2. Higher Wanderer Gods
  3. Gods of the Labyrinth
  4. Fossil Gods
  5. Gods of the Obet
  6. Wild Gods
  7. Little Gods
  8. Ascendants
  9. God-Kings
  10. Mortals 
 and the outline of their powers.
  • Throne - Extension of the god's self. A soul-world.
    • No Throne - Wandering - Gods stuck in the material world. Easily killed.
    • Only Throne - Imprisoned - Gods trapped in themselves, alone, unreachable.
  • Crown - A god's ability to influence the world outside their Throne.
    • No Crown - Impotent - Possesses worshipers, but no power.
    • Only Crown - Powers - A cosmic law.
  • Domain - The extent of a god's influence, its magic and worshipers.
    • No Domain - Secrets - Gods whose rites and signs have been lost.
    • Only Domain - Vagaries - Schools of magic with no god to speak of.

The Man Who Ate the Gods' Food

Folk story about a man who attended a banquet in the house of the gods and stole food off the plates reserved for divinity. Eating it, his eyes were opened to the secrets of the gods, and he came to know that the gods fed on cruelty. After returning, he went on to invite the gods to a banquet at his own home, where he served them the cooked and butchered remains of his own son. The immediate and incredible punishment delivered on him by the gods was not out of a sense of justice, but rather to prevent him from spreading the knowledge. But he escaped; the gods killed an innocent man...

Book Club

Witch coven descended from an ancient cult of a scholar-god. Bookleggers embroiled in conflict with the creeping chaos that eats at the world. Your go-to for rare books and magical grimoires. Intermediaries among underworld factions and beings. Access to the Stygian Library.

Petrichor Dreamland Market

An underworld black market close enough to the surface for significant overlap with the mundane affairs of the surface. The proprietor (or at least, the guy who is always there) has a bunch of vending machines rigged up for ammo, toiletries, trinkets and drugs, plus a rotating selection of goods mundane and anomalous, whatever you might want. He's a big guy, doesn't talk much, has a shrine to a god no one can identify, really likes playing central Asian heavy metal at high volume.

108.1 HDAC "The Delve"

Phoenix Marino and his merry band of paracausal pirates dance up and down the radio bands, providing news, music, and entertainment to the delvers with the know-how to tune themselves in. They are on the government's most-wanted watchlist for aiding and abetting esoteric and occult crimes.

Boneless Cow Phenomenon

A spate of incidents over the course of five years and several neighboring countries where entire herds were discovered, overnight, to have lost every bone in their bodies.

The Found Footage Paradox

A question: why is it that there is never any evidence of the events recorded on those unlabeled VHS tapes until after they are watched? An answer: don't ask questions you already know the answers to.


Devotees to a god of flesh, who seek communion by butcher's blade and blood pitcher. They are damnably good at hiding their god from both the public and authorities, no matter how many raids are carried out, no matter how many freezers and smokehouses and stewpots filled with godmeat are seized. They are becoming more militant under outside pressure, circling the wagons, preparing their defenses.

Delver's Guidebook

Both oral history and living document, chronicling discoveries in the underworld and supplemented by the discoveries of others. The average guidebook is full to bursting with additions, edits, commentaries, rumors, trade secrets, folk wisdom, superstition, bullshit, and unvarnished truth. Thanks to the internet, several traditional lineages have been consolidated and shared broadly for the first time.


The American Supernatural Hazard Emergency Response Network was originally intended as an easy way to report supernatural events, but it proved an exorbitant cost for relatively few true reports. Decades of budget cuts left it little more than a skeleton when it was mothballed for good. A few regions of the country still have access, thanks to a dedicated but overwhelmed cadre of citizen volunteers.

Blackmoon and the Mercury 13

Of the eight vantablack tensegrity spheres that have appeared, only one has been breached. The inhabitants: thirteen women claiming to be members of NASA's Mercury program. None of the Thirteen bear any resemblance to the known members of the Mercury 13. None of the Thirteen have been permitted groundside access.

The Towers of the Tiger

Three towers of light orange clay, rising for several hundred feet of the ocean at a nearly 45-degree angle. The exterior is an intricate layer-cake of bas-reliefs; the interior has yet to be mapped. Named so for the adult tiger that lives atop the southern tower, a creature estimated to be the size of an adult elephant. Communication has not yet been attempted.

Spell Tumors

The ultimate end of a life spent drinking demon liquor and meddling with paracausality. Arcane carcinogens ravage living cells, forming hideous growths that contain significant charge on their own, enough that they can be transplanted into new bodies and still retain potency. Plus, feed it enough and you can grow new ones! 


An underworld settlement consisting of a single metal tube three meters in diameter and twenty-six kilometers in length. It twists back in upon itself intestine-like. Additional entrances had to be dug out by the inhabitants with hand tools.

Red Light District

The inhabitants are called succubi, but that's not quite right. They are strangers here, refugees tucked away in the crooked back alleys under the soft lights that won't hurt their eyes, forgotten.

404 House

A home of unstable placement. Experimentation eventually revealed a way of locking it in place and unplugging it from reality when secrecy or relocation was needed. 

The Trujillo Incident

Peru. May 23, 2002. The corpse of a giant squid washes up on shore. Dozens of genetically-identical human embryos are found fused to the inside of the mantle. [REDACTED]

The Titanians

A band of experimental mages attempting to formulate a ritual that will open up a portal to the moon Titan, as well as change their bodies to survive the environment there. They have grand designs of uplifting the simple life they suspect lives there and ruling over it as gods, or something of that nature. They are a bit out there.

Red Demon Tea Shop

They brew a good cuppa, and often serve sturdy-looking men with tattoos. An obvious front for organized crime, and they don't care that everyone knows. If the sturdy-looking men with tattoos show up in bug-eyed and befanged red masks, you stepped in on their business. The boss, the Lady in the Back Room, is rumored to be the kind of woman who could break any of her bruisers over he own knees.

Pure World Armory

Militant cultists with an unyeilding, violent moral code. They stoop down to the fallen and sinful world to work as guns for hire for the funds to construct their Pure World Sanctuary, and they hate every minute of it. They see every person outside their ranks to be steeped utterly in moral decay (usually involving sex of some kind), both incapable or unworthy of escape. They are very open about how they hope to gestate a god in their sanctuary that will wipe the world clean of all they hate.


Godlike beings of earth, sea, and sky, whose eternal slumber births pockets of dream so potent they seep into the world of matter and energy as stable loci. often worshiped by human cults, though they are not gods known to answer.

Abductee Hope and Recovery Fellowship

A volunteer network that hosts group counseling sessions for the targets of alien abductions. Backed by a very small UFO-centric religion, but it's been harmless so far. No other organization can confirm the events.

Federal Bureau of Occult Investigation

The public face of the government's paranormal affairs, meant as a cover and smokescreen for the unseen inner machinations. Derisively called the "F-Bois" by denizens of the underworld.

Voxel Blooms

Ineffable glossy black cubes spring up after rain. They stick together, but can be pulled apart with a little effort. Within ten hours they will gently float up float upwards and vanish in the atmosphere.

Elektrotokos Syndrome

Initial incident of a woman (age 29) giving birth to an eight-pound chunk of smoothed amber, containing within a bloated mosquito. Over two hundred subsequent incidents have occurred worldwide, with chunks ranging from four to twelve pounds and contents expanding to include ticks, spiders, centipedes, earwigs, and flatworms.


You didn't think they'd leave you behind, did you?

Saturday, February 8, 2020


The Joesky Tax is a necessary part of a healthy RPG environment and chief of the weapons against the disc horse. Unfortunately, there are many people who do not know of the power of the Joesky Tax and are thus left defenseless to the horrific beast.

Never fear! I have created a list, better than a list a random table, that when the disc horse arrives at your door and demands engagement you can say NO, DISC HORSE! I HAVE PAID MY TAXES!

100 Methods of Paying Your Joesky Tax

  1. Revise & polish an old module (or even game) you like.
  2. Outline a new game using 5 core mechanics taken from other games.
  3. What genre of games needs a revival, change, start or renewal?
  4. You are a goblin. What is today's scheme?
  5. What horrible internet rabbit hole did the occultist fall into?
  6. Favorite children's book + favorite adult book = game setting
  7. Your favorite PC.
  8. Lost tomes of the Stygian Library.
  9. Make your least favorite monster cool.
  10. What's a myth that begs for an adaptation (that doesn't have one)?
  11. Your favorite weird Wikipedia article & how to use it.
  12. What holiday festival did you stumble onto?
  13. Goblins have a food truck! What are they serving?
  14. Funerary beliefs of the local culture.
  15. Common pets for adventurers
  16. What monster lurks in the hearts of men?
  17. Make or modify character creation into a solo game.
  18. Who are these chucklehead novices from the Temple of the Centipede?
  19. Describe the place you long for.
  20. What songs do you faintly hear on the lyre, and what do they mean?
  21. What world lies beyond the hidden door?
  22. Make a family tree generator or table.
  23. Revise & renew an old post.
  24. What terrible fortune has befallen, to drive so many into the life of a delver?
  25. What great journey has just left to where you cannot follow?
  26. Take a class; make its opposite.
  27. Shotgun scenario! Any game, 1500 words max.
  28. Why is that starfish latched to that man's face?
  29. Character creation via a novel form of life path.
  30. Who carries that lantern across the mist-shrouded moor? 
  31. What sort of monstrous roadkill is that?
  32. Explain what a gorbadrex is.
  33. Notable pilgrimage points.
  34. Name the threat that seeks to eat the sun.
  35. Character creation through memories.
  36. Describe the other planets in the solar system.
  37. Take a given in society, flip and extrapolate.
  38. Take a given about human physiology or behavior, flip and extrapolate.
  39. Who bears delvers and cutters to the afterlife? Which afterlife?
  40. Make a map.
  41. Using the above map, apply this post from Sword of Mass Destruction
  42. Patch notes from the gods.
  43. Super-specialized non-hostile magical creature.
  44. What avoidable tragedy started this terrible conflict?
  45. Take a game you've never played, make a character for it. Write about the experience.
  46. Take your favorite class, remake it even more favorite.
  47. The council failed at its appointed task. What consequences will come of this?
  48. Non-dinosaur prehistoric creature class or monster.
  49. Formative myths of this culture.
  50. Organizations for making parties.
  51. What intolerable injustice must be righted?
  52. Blow the conch! Who answers?
  53. Loopholes in fairy contracts.
  54. Terrifying threat that is actually misunderstood.
  55. Stranded alien colonists.
  56. Guests at the mad magician's tea party.
  57. What did you see on that unmarked VHS?
  58. What is trapped in the roots of that tree?
  59. What great filter killed these aliens?
  60. What's something you like in a game you don't?
  61. So where do these monsters come from?
  62. Make a short adventure about a marriage.
  63. Using magic to solve big, but mundane, problems.
  64. Get the PCs to the moon using default rules in a game where that is not normally an option.
  65. What is the Hand of Trax and why was it stolen?
  66. Critique a video game RPG.
  67. Fishing minigame!
  68. The hideous secret vices of notable nobles.
  69. Read & review a game book you own but have not played.
  70. Non-racist ancient alien scenario.
  71. Build a city in a very unlikely place.
  72. Cryptids! Make some cryptids.
  73. Nonstandard monstrous humanoids that are more than one note.
  74. A broken artifact and how to fix it.
  75. Leviathans of the abyss, sky, and mantle.
  76. Make a script / alphabet.
  77. An ancient song that contains clues to ruins and treasure!
  78. Make a Wonder and Wickedness style magical school.
  79. Take a genre, approach it from a different angle and perspective.
  80. Notorious pieces of high art worth heisting away.
  81. What lurks inside the labyrinth? Why is it there? How?
  82. What are the gifts of the Great Machine God?
  83. What government is funding these privateers?
  84. Cobble together a map of your favorite adventures.
  85. Who is this future for?
  86. What brings the Gazelle Queen to court?
  87. Who built these terrible tombs?
  88. Fun with obscure Biblical stories.
  89. What nonviolent interactions exist with these creatures.
  90. A forbidden spell; why was it censured?
  91. What secrets have these hallucinogenic snails divulged?
  92. What did this magical creature look like millions of years ago? What about the future?
  93. Who will inherit the world after humanity has passed?
  94. Write about a topic that inspires you. The thing that instinctively makes you want to create.
  95. Myths and legends told in the twilight days of the climate apocalypse. 
  96. What is the snake-headed salesman selling?
  97. Society-upending magical or technological development.
  98. An unusual shapeshifter.
  99. A collection of final thoughts.
  100. Make a similar d100 list, link it to this one.

Tuesday, February 4, 2020

Esoteric Enterprises Actual Play: TAKE-HOME CONTAINER

Mon did this!


Rare book dealer Virginia_Woolf vanished without a trace, leaving Half-Light (Evoro, mercenary), Crocodile (Monsieur le Battalier, doctor), and Michael (Isaak, criminal) not only without their promised 1593 Japanese printing of The Divine Comedy and all three volumes of a 1979 The Last Dangerous Visions, but down their entire deposit. That's enough to go fuck someone up over.

After paying even more (in the form of hard cider, instant noodles, and the last of the weird porn) to the oracle in the abandoned mini-mall, they were able to get a trace on their seller, a trace that sent them five hours away and across state lines, to an abandoned-looking farmhouse in the middle of grey, dead farmland.

They pull up the dirt driveway to find a truck and a sedan already there. The house's windows have been boarded up, but the door is ominously open.

The trio investigate the sedan first, with Michael easily jimmying the lock open. Inside they find a couple boxes of paradox paperbacks (such as Mark Twain's The Alchemist and His Dog), old fast food wrappers for Great Googly Moogly's, and a duffel bag containing a man's clothes, toiletries, and an ID for a youngish, bespectacled man with curly brown hair named Archie Staller. They move it all to their own car.

Michael makes sure that he can hotwire the car if he needs to, as the house door is caught by the breeze and swings wide open. The trio sweeps in, guns in hand.

The scene that greets them is mountains of trash ringing a carved-up corpse in the middle of the floor, surrounded by sinuous symbols in white paint. The corpse's head is missing, and one of the legs has been cubed and dumped in a wok on a camping stove. The whole thing smells like roadkill dunked in a spice cabinet. Crocodile is able to recover from the extreme nausea caused by stepping over the ritual circle and decides to take the wok with her. Half-Light and Michael rummage through the trash and find a pair of pants and an ID: the same face as before, now with the name Seamus McMann. Plus $500 in cash.

Brief reconnaissance of the dining room shows that the table has been sloppily and not-entirely cleaned of the paint and blood that once covered its surface. The kitchen is a disaster: shelves torn out of the cabinets and fridge, more stains on the walls and floor. A black 3-ring binder lies open on the floor, ignored. They pass through and on to the black mouth of the basement steps.

Down in the darkness, they find cubicles of plywood lining the walls and bungee cords tied to the pipes above. On the floor, there is the fleshy mess with a ragged mouth that used to be a man named Leonard. He's chatty, explaining how he deserves his lot for his failure to fulfill the principle act of power, how Chuck in the barn succeeded, and how Rachel might still be around. Leonard wishes for death, for in his current state starvation will take a terribly long time: he's already been here a week.

Crocodile, ever a sensible woman, runs up to the mud room to grab a snow shovel and trash bag to stuff Leonard into and carry him around as if she's some horrible anti-Santa.

As the group emerges back in the kitchen, a scraping sound from outside runs across the window boards. The silence to follow is oppressive, as they tread up the creaking stairs to the upper floor.

There's relatively little of note upstairs: a grimy bathroom and a trashed bedroom. The computer is still on (3d pipe screensaver!), despite there being no power to the rest of the house. They strip out the hard drive and the flash drive that was plugged in (they do not view the "untitled.mp4 video contained thereon). On the hard drive is:
  • Ye gods that is a lot of porn. It's not even good porn. It's bad by Deviantart standards.
  • A 300-page manifesto detailing global catastrophe and the rise of an eternal capitalist technofascist government.
  • Financial records, though not particularly illuminating ones.
  • A pdf of an Chinese text, with a machine translation.
Elsewhere in the room is found a hardware shopping list, a crude drawing of a man turning into something not unlike a butterfly, a photo of two soldiers (presumably Chuck and Leonard) and Chuck's wallet with his credit card.

Something scuttles on the roof above them.

Down the stairs. Thuds on the kitchen door. Crocodile pulls away the boards on the kitchen window, grabs her pepper spray and hits Leonard full in the face with it before tossing the screaming flesh-thing out the window.

The distraction doesn't work.

There's a woman silhouetted in the front door against the grey light of mid-afternoon for a moment before she rushes across the living room. There is the glint of a cleaver.

Michael is on his toes and leaps out the window, sprinting around the house. Crocodile blasts her pepper spray to no effect, but is able to follow behind as Rachel's cleaver comes down a hair too late, biting into the sill. Half-Light, who had her rifle prepped from the kitchen, takes a shot and books it to the front door. she is just able to make it before Rachel slices open her back. Crocodile and Michael sprint around the house to jump in their car. The cleaver finds Half-Light's eye. Blood is pouring everywhere, she will not last. The car starts, Crocodile fires off a shot from the passenger side, Half-Light throws herself to the side, Michael floors it.

With no time to spare they hit Rachel with the car and send her flying. Crocodile throws open the door, grabs Half-Light, and drags her inside. Michael floors it for a second time and they tear off down the driveway, spitting up gravel as Rachel rises from the ground and howls at the receding car.

Crocodile is able to stabilize Half-Light before she bleeds out with the first aid kit she brought with her, and it's a terrible five hours home.

Michael has a hideout underneath an abandoned factory in one of the City's old industrial districts. Crocodile gets to work repairing Half-Light's eye (it'll be a bit blurry but will remain intact if it isn't injured again), and Michael gets to work at draining Chuck's credit cards with bulk buying gift cards.

They're able to break even, more or less, though they still don't have the books they wanted.

The barn remains sealed.

Monday, February 3, 2020

Thirteen Items

Months ago, Michael Prescott issued a challenge to make the most evocative setting possible using a 13-item inventory.

I am nothing if not exceedingly timely and on the ball.

The Possessions of Sen Mazzaroth, Wanderer

1. Acupuncture Needles and Thread

The golden needles and silver thread favored by the chirurgeons of Iln is hard to come by, especially by foreigners, and all the more desired for their potency in cleaning the spirit and drawing out corruptions.

2. Bottled Demon

Steeped in its own liquor, the putrescent bruise-blue embryo still glares through the murk with burning gold eyes and serrated smile. It offers a boon if released.

3. Hand-Woven Scarf

Long nights of work by one beloved went into this long strip of scarlet and gold. The family histories going back eight generations are embroidered in careful calligraphy, ending in the twined circles of rings.

4. Horned Pilgrimage Mask

A plain mask, lacquered white. Such masks serve three purposes: The first is to maintain the Law of Humility whilst traveling abroad. The second is to denote the profession of the wearer, by shape. The last is to state their purpose, by color. 

5. Patched Traveling Clothes

Insulated against cold, repaired against damage, over and over again. With enough time, all kin of the road wear the same garments.

6. Obsidian Sword

Certain smithing enchantments will draw the shattered fragments of such a weapon back into a whole piece. This one was clearly performed by a master, for it draws upon all seven humours of the soul.

7. Red Ocarina

Certain melodies, when played on instruments made of clay from the sacred river Gyensol, allows for the calling up and binding of misborn and miscarried spirits. They flock to it as if to the distant call of a mother.

8. Road Cakes

A small loaf of this dense black bread can be rationed out over days. It tastes faintly of honey from the high hidden valleys

9. Icon of Safety

The terrible appearance of this leering visage is more than enough to scare away most nightly ambushers. The ancestral memory of the monsters that once worse such faces is still strong.

10. Rosary of Fire-Pearls

A mantra to collect the mind, a mantra for the emptying of vessels, a mantra for seeking of secrets.

11. Golden Bell

The clerics of the gods in the Oubliette are known to carry these ritual tools while making their rounds. How did it arrive here on the surface?

12. Iron Rod Rifle

The gunpowder societies of the Delta keep their secrets, leading other armies to unorthodox alternatives. The weapons of the Edhaspar Regulars launch white-hot iron spikes at speeds below sound, spawning dozens of widespread cliches about porcupines and pincusions.

13. Sturdy Boots

Tradition has it that every cobbler who repairs a wanderer's boots will apply their brand to the leather, making a permanent mark of the roads they have traveled.