Saturday, March 21, 2020

The World of Mother Stole Fire

This one was made with Azgaar's Fantasy Map Generator

This map has been in my head for a very long time. That's to be expected, because what sort of self-respecting D&D referee doesn't have a half-plotted, never-started fantasy novel out there?

This one is mine. A place of my own. A daydream that has been the friend of my waking hours for many years, forever changing, subsuming new ideas until I can no longer tell when and where the junctions were made. My notes are both expansive and mostly out of date.

The map itself is unfinished, and shows only a third of one continent and none of what lies to the west and south of the Mare. It is the most well-defined region, however - while the rest of the world is mostly settled down in relation to its components, I've yet to solidify the shape. It's all a bunch of labeled blobs. The shape of this region could use more work as well: the other version looks more like this, which I like a bit more from a shape perspective. Less like the Mediterranean, it's got better coastlines (because it's a collage I made of normal maps).

There are some things to know about the world beforehand.

The Plague Years - An apocalyptic global pandemic that, among other things ended the Second Empire and ushered in the beginning of the modern era.  

The Three Empires - The first was Darvatius', when he conquered the world and destroyed it all. That is ancient history.

The second is the Tlanic: militant sun-worshipers that managed to control much of the eastern continent and several overseas colonies. The last emperor, considered the living embodiment of the sun god, died during an eclipse just as the Plague Years began.

The third is more potential than actual. There are some fears that it will emerge in the Dragon Republics.

The Four Families

  • Homini - Idaltu, Neandr, Altai, Flores, Manu, Lilu.These six classical peoples are still useful in a general categorical sense, but people being people they are not accurate to the cumulative lived experience of millennia of intermingling.
    •  Possessors of the Crown of Fire, that which makes and fuels gods.
  • Cetacea - Dolphins, porpoises and whales. Some enterprising wizards have developed mechanical suits for them to walk about on land, but these are still rare.
    •  Possessors of the Riddle of the Deeps, which they have remained tight-lipped about.
  • Elephants - Plains, jungle, mammoths, mastodons, and pygmies on certain Belt islands
    •  Possessors of the Earthsong, an ultrasonic ancestral memory.
  • Corvids - Crows, ravens, magpies, and the occasional parrot.
    • Possessors of the Murder of All Crows, a hidden parliament where all corvids may slip off to when out of sight. They hire out their services as message-carriers for secrets and carrion - most folks keep a jar of pickled sheep's eyes on hand for payment.

Other Thinking Beings

  • Octopi - The "Fifth Family". Octopi are clearly intelligent, but have never shown anyimpulse to communicate with humanity or anyone else, despite attempts by wizards and scholars to breach the communication barrier.
  • Homunculi / Half-Men - An alchemical creation animated by arcane fire. Their skin is hairless, thick, and grey, similar to that of an elephant. The most common body forms are humanoid, equine, and some that appear like giant dragonflies. Universal among forms is the lack of a head - the animating fire is open to the air above the stump of the neck. They are a Bensaeili creation.
  • Devils - Not to be confused with demons, devils are humans who have had their hearts removed via metaphysical surgery. This completely eliminates their empathy, but leaves behind a legal/economic/bureaucratic savant. Anyone dealing with devils must keep them bound by complex layers of strictures, separated from the general population, and secure their hearts to maintain long-term control.The Dispaterian origin of the procedure is clear to everyone. Tanniclen maintains a larger-than-comfortable corps of devil-bureaucrats.
  • The Ape-Men -The great apes do not possess the Crown of Fire and have only limited skills with human languages, but they are still considered members of family Homini and afforded the honors of such. Most of them live in the wilderness of Old Acephavara, Reniriya, or the Belt.

A note on names: I have kept the names of peoples as they were before I began the merge into MsF - as the traits are the same as in the blog posts about them, I am treating them as regional names (a solution of which I am actually quite fond of)

The dayrdan are neandr, the buruq are altai, and the lilifio are hauflin.


Two continents bracket the Mare Interregnum, nearly enclosing it. They don't have names yet. Beyond them there is the Antipodic Ocean, and if there are lands to be found there, their names are secret.

The Dayr

The lands north of the mountains (themselves also called the Dayr, or the Dayrmont). Pine forests, tundra, glaciers. Home of dayrdan, mammoths, black amazons, the Wendish. The air is clear here. Clean. Cold. Keep an eye out for Mundo.

Wend - An isolationist city-state of gleaming white towers. The inhabitants have skin the color of milk, tinged with blue where it would flush pink on another, with eyes like ice and translucent hair as brittle as crystal - they have claimed to descend from unknown Atri-Tun in the uttermost north.

Tin Jacobstown - Once a coastal shantytown, now chief of the prospecting and whaling towns in the Dayr. The compact with Orca grants the inhabitants special dispensation to hunt whales, an act that would be unthinkable elsewhere. It is considered as the northernmost point of civilization that is still culturally linked to the city-states south of the mountains, and so has become synonymous with the hinterlands.

The Wall of Rhavian - An ancient structure blocking off access to a small, mist-shrouded peninsula. The Folk that live beyond have barred all access since the days of Darvatius, and the only humans to have passed over in either direction were the men of the Androgons, and they migrated to the south and east after their crossing.

Urukhá, Akká, Hrunná - "The Three Sisters" of the dayrdan keeps and the oldest continually inhabited settlements on the continent.

The White Pine Confederation

A longstanding set of common laws and peace agreements between local townships and nations that has bounced back and revitalized to fill the gap left after the Plague Years. The city-states in the region are considered the roots of both classical and modern democratic-humanist governance.

Bensael - A thriving city-state formed by an alliance between the remnants of six northern nations, refugees from the Low Countries and across the Mare, the former Imperial provincial capital, the Olen river dolphins, hespermontane elephant herds and the Murder of All Crows. The city is diverse and vibrant, and has only grown more so thanks to subsequent immigration waves (most recently refugees from Pelai across the Mare) and a robust system of public services. Bensael has become a primary cultural power on the continent, and its influence can be felt all the way from Wend to Kara Koren.

Tanniclen - The old imperial city within Bensael proper: wizards' towers and the tightly-clustered manors of the (terrifyingly inbred and honestly quite puglike) leftover aristocracy. In exchange for the arcane and economic aid it provided during the founding years, the Old City is permitted its own laws and governance as a separate polity - it has no representation in local consensus councils and only one seat when an All-Thing is called. It is ruled by the Black Queen and White Queen, seemingly-immortal sorceress sisters(?).

Orlei - A major cultural center with storied traditions in the arts, sciences, and philosophies. It is the only state in the region to have maintained a hereditary monarchy after the Plague Years, though the role is now almost entirely ceremonial. It was from the townships around the city that the sable Maid gathered her first supporters in her war against Hell.

Russet Country - The hill country to the east of Bensael and north of Orlei. Known mostly for a preponderance of goblin warrens and Folk stones, mining townships, the Knights of Autumn, and a very strong witching tradition.

Lilu-Yoya - Chief expansion of the lilu onto the surface (Though the the earthquake that opened the Two-Faced City up to the sky left them little choice), and now treated as synonymous with them. It is the epicenter of the lilu diaspora, the home of the lilu republican movement, its matriarchs were the first to make contact with other world powers...technically true, if one ignores all the smaller instances that have filled up the years. No matter. Given its position, Lilu-Yoya controls passage through the Allecanth Mountains and it consistently has allied with Bensael over Draga despite the matriarchs' distaste for Bensaili civil liberties - Draga-style austerity is the less appealing by far. 


The Necromantic Socialist Republic was born out of the trauma of the Plague Years and the war with Hell as an experiment in utopia. If the dead so outnumber the living, and the dead have no use for their bones, is it not the greater honor for the dead to be of use to their descendants in death? Likewise death had proven itself the great power of the world, and so to give it honor is sensible. The inhabitants want for little, for the dead provide for them - all that is asked of them is their bones.

Di Valeo - Cultural center of the NSR, rebuilt by the hands of the undead after its complete destruction during the war. Despite all the efforts of the necromancer-architects, there is a certain feeling of loss that cannot be shaken, for before the war it had been the most beautiful city in the world. The great cathedral here, dedicated to Ama Adimatha in her aspect of the Lady of Sorrows and her Stillborn, is an ossuary. With painstaking care the necromancers have inscribed each skull with its appropriate name.

The Low Countries

The city-states here share a great deal culturally with those in the north and the east, but the proximity to Dis has led to integration of some hellish aspects - demon engines, infernal architecture, the rusting hulks of Dispaterian war machines. Demons and their hunters are common here.

Bhyor - "In Bhyor there is the House of Sin" goes the story. A vast iron cube nestled in the branches of the gargantuan petrified tree that sits atop the sharp stone outcropping in the bay. Low whitewashed houses with blue mosaic facades and empty doors. The House had been part of a tradition, where those guilty of heinous crimes would willingly choose to enter and never return, to clean the guilt of the many. Everyone knows now of how the sacrifices grew more and more frequent, until one warm night in late summer the entire population got up from their beds, walked along that narrow bridge, up the thin stone steps, and stepped through the black mouth of the House. No one goes to Bhyor anymore.

Dis - Hell is an emergent phenomenon. Provided with a suitable host civilization, it will slough forth in the same form that it always has - the smoke-wreathed towers, the shit-filled gutters, the blood red stone, the hive of the dead-already, the singularity of human suffering. While this incarnation of Dis still stands, it has been hobbled for the time. The blackened fields of craters and trenches and rust-hollowed war machines that surround its pitted walls remain the site of the greatest accomplishment in human history - had Darvatius not taken to the field himself, or if there had been a single spare hour, the Maid's army could have torn the black iron gates from their settings and struck at the heart of Moloch itself. 


The northern capital of the Second Empire, now its own independent state. A dour, puritanical place filled with dour, puritanical people, run by only the dourest and most puritanical theocratic oligarchs. It does not claim direct Imperial political lineage, having always been a rival to the southern provinces even before the collapse. It has a complicated relationship with Bensael, who serves as its common rival and erstwhile ally and whose diverse social democracy is diametrically opposed to the authoritarianism found here. The northern variant of the Imperial Church (that is, the surviving branch) is henotheist bordering on monotheism, centered around a distant and terrible solar deity-judge.

The Dragon Republics - Fourteen city-states built atop what is, as best as archaeologists can tell, the kernel that first formed Darvatius' empire. An economic powerhouse thanks to their elaborate system of guilds and banks. While on paper the Republics follow the Imperial Church, sects of dragon-worship are an open secret among them - even their longtime ally Draga gives them arm's length when the political situation is inflamed (and it often is). There are some who believe that the next emergence of Dis will be here.


Capital city of the amazons, situated at the mouth of the Thermodon where it empties into the sea. Triremes with horsehead prows ply the waters of the Blackwine. Cavalry patrols ride up and down the roads to Kara Koren. Children play in the agora under the bronze eyes of the colossal statue of Tabiti Hipparctrix Hodegetria. Old women still tell the story of how the statue stepped off its pedestal, spear in hand, and waded out into the harbor to fight off the Tlanic navy during the Plague Years. Because of its location, the city sits on a vital artery between the Mare Interregnum and Kara Koren, a state that has permitted its independence despite its neighbors.

The Magelands

Magic flows on the breeze, heavy and sweet as honey. suffusing every breath and cell and thought. The grass is greener here; the sky is bluer. stones are no longer bound by the shackle of gravity, trees pull up their roots, form and purpose lose their concrete boundaries, time and space unspool their tangled knots. It is intoxicating. It will bind you to itself until you are so filled with the freedom it offers that you are wiped clean and made a part of it.

Mund - A fortress city in the midst of the Magelands. A brutalist arcology packed tight with tens of thousands of people who attempt to resist the power of the Magelands through the mindless repetition of enforced hivelike normalcy. Total denial of the life beyond. Sterile. Eternal. Their border wall crumbles after generations of neglect and retreat to Mund.

Kara Koren 

Wide open plains, rolling off into the horizon. The buruq make their home here, their semi-nomadic bands cycling between the small cities on the rivers and lakes and the open prairie. Vast herds of bison, antelope, camels, horses and wild boar can be found here. It is likewise home to the largest population of elephants on the eastern continent.

The Hollowhorn - A long-extinct volcano, rising snow-capped and solitary above the plains. It is a sacred place for the buruq, where their nations gather for jubilee festivals and the practice of peaceful politics in neutral territory. The permanent residents consist mostly of a council of Greyhair'd who have rescinded their tribal membership to act as impartial arbiters. They likewise act as the keepers of the Last King - the last surviving true dragon, who sleeps away the ages in a cave deep within the mountain.


The heart of the Second Empire has been reduced to a decaying, sickness-stricken land. The Plague is still here, seeped deep into the soil and water. Impenetrable swamps and dark forest filled with misshapen, monstrous creatures render crossing the territory by land near impossible. There are still human inhabitants, but they have been changed so completely and severed so utterly from the rest of the world that they are left to their own devices.

Tlan - A metropolis reclaimed by nature. some folks will talk of treasure that remains hidden there, but nearly all was looted during the collapse and any that remains is hardly worth the danger of an expedition into Olabeth. From the harbor, one can still see the gleaming golden dome of the solar tabernaculum where the sacrifices were held.

The Old Imperial Heartland - As the Second Empire collapsed, the aristocracy made a mad dash to secure their holdings in the east. While some of the governors and generals were able to maintain a sense of order and continuity, disease and famine swiftly ended their attempts. Centuries later, the Heartland is a feral wilderness filled with squabbling warlords and the ruins they inhabit. The wars between them are unending, and the region in its entirety has been written off as unmappable - no border lasts long enough for the map to reach publication.


Mangrove swamps and mudflats choked with the thousand-thousand varieties of the bright red panacea flower. Broiling heat. Drowning humidity. Complete isolation. The great ceramic domes and minarets of the Petal Houses are the only signs of habitation along the whole of the river, save for a few desperate villages hiding from the Houses' security forces.

Mouth of Ool - The only access in or out of Ool and the only permitted source of panacea potion. As far into Ool as most outsiders are allowed, and likely as far as anyone would want to go. The harbor which dominates the city is overseen by the white-robed eunuchs that act as the Houses' proxy guild. Visitors often report a feeling of constant surveillance, which longtime residents and guild-members will confirm as being entirely correct and rational.


Every mushroom grove found elsewhere in the world can trace its origin back to this island. Hairless, blueish-skinned Llaphedoniks sell mushroom ale and woven mycelium crafts to visitors in the ports. Deep in the fungal jungle live the mushroom men, who carry the memories of generations past and build a ziggurat to ends unknown.

Old Acephavara

Acehpavara is a paradox - by all accounts it should have and did destroy itself without the aid of the Plague - through economic catastrophe, incestuous political corruption, and arcanonuclear war - yet it survived all of that and the disease. Not in any compatible state to the empire that was once rival of Tlan, but the city still stands, the state still functions. still, it is Old Acephavara - history has passed it by. The cities that were once under its control have sprung up to outshine it in the modern day.

Meredat - Home to the main means of reaching the Moon, the ship Diamondwing captained by the archmage Balathrysti.

Janashkut - A potent strain of ghoul-leprosy is endemic to the region. Over the centuries, the oldest sections of the city have been sealed off and abandoned, forming the infamous labyrinthine leper districts, as new constructions are built on the border.

Vanidyos - Current chief of the Acephavaran city-states, Vanidyan society actually precedes Acephavaran by some time. Aspects of this that were passed on and remain strong include the city's multitude of martial arts traditions, potently-spiced cuisine (A favorite of the city's very large lilu population), the black-lead musical tradition, skeleton iconography long before the NSR made it cool, and the unique-to-the-city gods The Headless One and The Heart and Bones.

The Belt of Fire

A chain of tropical volcanic islands that stretch across the Mare Interregnum from Vanidyos to Pelai. The main artery of trade between the eastern and western continents, seconded only by the Qaare-Bensael corridor in the north. Home to dozens of lilifio nations, many of them nautical and migratory.

Distant Lands and Parts Unknown

The map does not extend forever, and there are lands beyond its borders whose inhabitants have made their case in clarity to remain undisturbed.

Ghan - East beyond Kara Koren. A hilly, arid land. True desert. Difficult to navigate. Ancient irrigation canals lined with fields of coffee and barley make a grid of the rivers. Clay brick towers offer sky funerals to the vultures. Shrines to the Bull that Carries the Sky rise at crossroads

Reniriya - South of Vanidyos and Old Acephavara. Hot. Wet. Rainforest, mostly. Carnivorous plants. They are not fond of cities here. Beautiful ceramics occasionally traded for necessary goods. Hot air balloons bobbing above the canopy, pulled down to safety when it rains. Tokens of firefly spirits. High fluidity in family structure and gender expression. Devotional cannabis and dreamworld pantheons.

The Trailwards - A chain of islands south and east of Reniriya. Pa'O Pa'O is among them. Known to the outside world mostly for pearl diving and masked wrestlers.


  • The White Pine Confederation is a pretty blatant nod to the Haudenosaunee (Iroquois Confederacy) - this is because I think it's rad.
  • Bensael itself is an obvious appeal to the author situation.
  • The Sable Maid is absolutely supposed to be a mashup of Joan of Arc and Fingolfin, I regret fucking nothing.
  • Let this be my manifesto that the four core fantasy species should be humans, elephants, dolphins and crows, on the grounds that treating them more like people is long, long overdue.
  • Before today I had no idea what the cetacean gift was going to be and I am still uncertain about it.
  • This map already has errors in it, namely that:
    • Temiskyra should probably be south of it's current location. Or something needs to be there, it's very awkward and empty.
    • I'm not super happy with Hespir's location, it might get moved westward across the Mare.
    • Dis should be much more south along the coast.
    • The location of the Old Acephavaran capital is missing, it should be towards the point of the horn. 
    • Bhyor and the Wall of Ravian are not on the map. 
    • Draga is both the name of the country and of its capital, the latter of which is not shown. 
And there you go: life is rough right now and bound to get rougher, so I thought it'd be a good time to share something that brings me joy in the hope it might bring you some as well.

I will accept any and all questions.

Thursday, March 19, 2020

A Last Hope in Hell

Wayne Douglas Barlowe, Inferno

Pandatheist is a bad influence, who encourages me to do RPG things.

This idea is old, and I couldn't tell you how old. I think it originated before I started the blog. I don't know if it will ever see the light of day properly, but here it is.

0) Canterbury Tales + The Inferno + Ultraviolet Grasslands. A game about a pilgrimage through hell. Lots of Darkest Dungeon influence. Very anachronistic, probably.

1) The line between Hell as divine punishment and Hell as an incursion of a hostile alien environment is deliberately blurred.

2) In the center of hell there is a church. No one knows why it is safe there, but everyone is certain that it is the safest place in the world.

3) The emergence of Hell absolutely involves the plague. As far as characters are concerned it is the absolute and real end of the world. It might still be, but not for the reasons they think.

4) Lots of premade characters all known only by their title.

5) The mental image I have for Hell is very much in the horrible fungal disaster zone of the Sepsis in Degenesis. It is not unthinkable that it is some sort of terraforming device.

6) Things might be worse on the outside

7) The more horrible the environment is the more the LISA the Painful OST goes into my rotation. Treat it at given that someone is going to learn Secret Technique: 666 KILL CHOP DELUXE.

That out of the way, where would I go if I wanted to do something with this?

I've considered using David Schirudan's handy guide for translating UVG into Troika! at first. This is an easy and predictable place to start and honestly you could find and replace your way to a very good game based on that alone. The pilgrimage lends itself to a pointcrawl, and combat and exploration can be abstracted into random events such as are already in there. It could even be turned into a solo game with relative ease.

What will come of this, if anything? Who can say.

Thursday, March 12, 2020

Dan' Notebook of Unfinished Wonders, Vol 5

Volume 1
Volume 2
Volume 3
Volume 4

As always, I make no promises that what is written here has not already been written.


  1. Diagetic found-footage monster manual entries
  2. Magical desert reclamation, & other major projects you can logically do with magic.
  3. Catastrophe Junction - a town, city, planet, realm, whatever.
  4. Unspooling black holes for matter, drawing out a flow like a thread by temporarily dissolving gravity.
  5. Nativity pageant with a live birth.
  6. Humans considered as "godmakers" by aliens, in reference to the human propensity to create and spread virulent memetic hazards - "We do not wish to come down with a case of the gods."
  7. Planets: Shashanasak, Jonbei, Pauzhe, Rix, Luu, The Worm-King Moon, The Houses of the Shena-B.
  8. "This story was passed on to me by my grandmother, on winter evenings when the night was clear, when we would sit by the hearth and drink yak-milk together. Long ago, when the Silver River was young, there rose a people from a distant star who..."
  9. The First Elders, who learned the secret of immortality, the path called God-Walking, the path that could not be unmade. Those that took the God-Walk became the Great Digitals.
  10. Bands of pink and blue to the west, under a slim crescent moon.Mosquito bites on ankles, lightning bugs above wet grass.
  11. A whorehouse district covered in yellow butterflies.
  12. A profession: hemometeorologist
  13. Ashkedash sky-squid
  14. Straw Hat Ministries
  15. Casings from ship guns floating in the water. Sailors take pot shots at them as a game
  16. “Well, you’ll be dead and I’ll be eating three meals a day.”
  17. High above in orbit the golden moonlet laughed, and all the choirs of electric angels in the silicon cloisters of its heart proclaimed with joy, “Holy, holy, holy!”
  18. Sandalphon’s consciousness stretched and got up out of bed, as it were. 
  19. Calico the cutpurse with her tricolor bird mask, born on horseback, can speak ogre

20) She left the inn when the scablands were still misty and grey, on a long-necked horse striped blue and black. The crumpled track of dirt and stone twisted out in silence. Aquinas would rise first, then Augustine, and the hard white sunlight would burn away the mist and fill the day with sharpened edges.

21) The ghosts of Mars sing dirges in the red hills and the knife valleys. They sing by the icy streams, and in the chiming bone forests. They sing in the mists and in the rusting iron sky, and the pale Twins at night. In the dust storm and the calm, they are there. They sing in the Smoke-Towers, and the God-places. They are the crown upon the Mountain, and in the canals choked with reeds.

Space Teamster Inspirational Playlist for Mothership 

(my GF helped with this one!)
  1. We All Lift Together (Warframe OST) 
  2. Space Lion (Cowboy Bebop OST) 
  3. Pushing the Speed of Light (Julia Ecklar and Anne Prather) 
  4. Blues 2.0 (Fruteland Jackson) 
  5. Keep the Wolves Away (Uncle Lucius) 
  6. Devil Wears a Suit and Tie (Colter Wall) 
  7. The Chemical Worker's Song (Great Big Sea) 
  8. Your favorite Johnny Cash song 
  9. Internal Conflict (Black Mesa Xen OST) 
  10. Dawson's Christian (Leslie Fish and Vic Tyler) 
  11. What Do You Know? (Annihilation OST) 
  12. Make This Perv (Spewcup) 
  13. The Mermaid Sisters' Song (Carole and Tuesday OST) 
  14. Metallica Goes to Punjab (Wax Audio) 
  15. Demon Days (Gorillaz) 
  16. SILA (A Tribe Called Red ft. Tanya Tagaq) 
  17. Roll Northumbria (The Dreadnoughts) 
  18. Song to Boddho (Pathologic 2 OST) 
  19. Main Menu (Outer Wilds OST) 
  20. She Shines (Transistor OST)
  21. Fingers to the Bone (Brown Bird) 
  22. Kugutsuuta Ura Mite Chiru (GitS 2 OST)
  23. Blood on my Name (The Brother Bright)
  24. Bonya (Fatoumata Diawara)
Or just cheat and play the entire discography of Julia Ecklar.

Remnant notes from the one marathon ironman game of CK2 I managed to complete.

  • King Ailbrend of Ireland is lucky enough to ascend just after gavelkind is tossed in favor of primogeniture. Inherits Scotland when his unmarried niece dies. He marries princess Damiane of Byzantium (Grey Eminance, In the Purple, Kind, Humble, Charitable, Craven)
    • Six daughters over the span of 15 years: Slain, Conchenn, Be-Fail, Dub-Lenma, Eua, Forbflaith
      • Slain is a gigantic troublemaker, gets married off to a prince of Abyssinia because this house values multiculturalism.
      • Be-Fail dies of sickness at age 10. 
    • A son is born! Eochuchan arrives while Ailbrend is off catching pneumonia on pilgrimage to Rome.
  •  I am wounded in battle putting down a rebellion and become known as The Great.
  • Then years later I die and my son is undermined by one of my advisors who was apparently a fervent Scottish nationalist who moved us back to gavelkind which would eventually split Ireland and Scotland apart when Eochuchan's sons take the thrones and it's all a mess and we could have stopped the English, we could have stopped them.
Also Spain was Yazidi until France conquered it and the HRE devoured Hungary


  1. On the Identification of False Magi
  2. The Antarctic Codex 
  3. The Cthonic Sermons 
  4. Arcanum Carcinogenus 
  5. Signs, Works, Symbols 
  6. The Ketrell Record 
  7. The Amber Mysteries 
  8. Meditations Upon the Deep Waters 
  9. The Red Samarkand Letters 
  10. The Demoniac Fragments 
  11. "On Decay" 
  12. The Book of Rust 
  13. Rites and Rituals of the Great Star Family 
  14. Burgess Shale Tablets

Stations and Habitats

  1. Clever Lu's
  2. Cahokia
  3. Amaterasu Station
  4. Icebox
  5. BloodBathHouse
  6. Danny Dregs' Shipyard
  7. Masada
  8. Cheap Date
  9. Relay 23
  10. Sagan Station
  11. The Fishbowl
  12. Ashoka
  13. Lockjaw
  14. The Bastard

Phenotypes of Lizardman

  1. Crocodile
  2. Ankylosaur
  3. Komodo
  4. Gila
  5. Tortoise
  6. Horned devil
  7. Therinzosaurus
  8. Salamander
  9. Ceratopsian
  10. Feathered
  11. Parasaurolophus
  12. Pachycephalosaurus
  13. Sauropod
  14. Tyrannosaurus
  15. Spinosaurus
  16. Raptor
  17. Stegosaur
  18. Iguanodon
  19. Pterosaur
  20. Lambeosaurus

Mothership Tarot

0 - The Astronaut
I - The Scientist
II - The Saints
III - The Captain
IV - The C-Level
V - The Datamind
VI - The Crew
VII - The Ship
VIII - The Marine
IX - The Hidebehinder
X - The Freelancer Board
XI - The Android
XII - The Colonist
XIII - Hard Vacuum
XIV - The Union
XV - Malware
XVI - The Elevator
XVII - The Main Sequence
XVIII - The Eagle
XIX - The Swarm
XX - The High Houses
XXI - The Homeworld

Types of Marriages

  1. Pre-arranged by families
  2. Short-term renewable contract
  3. Subscription fee for civic benefits
  4. Purely economic, consorts expected
  5. Purely personal, property and economic functions handles by other means

Monday, March 9, 2020

The American Powers

Season 5 is nearly here! Time for some preparatory Magnus Archives content, created with the help of Michael Kennedy.

My intent here was to create a set of Powers that was more culturally keyed to America, just to see what sort of differences would spawn from a different cultural tableau.They're not meant as a replacement for the Core 14, more of supplement / tranformation / what-if, adding the mixing or specificity that comes with time and place.
  1. The Wilderness / Far-Away-From-Home - The terrible distance between you and safety. Being at the mercy of men, beasts, and the elements. The revelation that human mastery of the world is a dangerous falsehood.
  2. Conspiracy / They-Are-Controlling-Us - The knowledge that parties outside of your reach and sight are organizing events around you. Being the only one aware to a great danger. To make warnings that go ignored.
  3. The Left Behind / There-Once-Was-Something-Here - The absense of something that was once great and good. To watch it decay and be forgotten, with the knowledge that something better was once there.
  4. Oppression / Stamping-Down-Forever - Organized violence, directed towards you and yours.
  5. Repression / Hidden-Thing-Gone-Rotten - The hidden horror, the decay that writhes and squirms beneath what is presented as good or holy or upright or clean.
  6. Exploitation / We-Will-Be-Ground-Into-Dust - The awareness that one's suffering profits a power beyond one's influence. The clear lack of escape. Grindstone despair.
  7. The Stars / I-Cannot-Explain-This - An Outside Context Problem. That which violates all logic. The break in the facade. The intrusion upon the perception of a peaceful life.
  8. Waste / It-Has-No-Value / What-Has-Been-Discarded - Everything has been thrown away. Not even destroyed or altered, just abandoned. To witness the evaporation of worth. Ultimate apathy. Idolization of usefulness.
  9. Judgement / I-Am-Found-Wanting - The dissection of a life to make moral judgement. The unpleasable powers. Exposure of shame that can't be forgotten or covered up. Never being enough.
  10. Apocalypse / We-End-The-World - The recognition that the violent change that has assaulted the world is in some way your doing. The death-instinct inculcated by years of propaganda. To know that it cannot be stopped nor put back in the box.
  11. Glamour / It-Is-Dressed-In-Lies - What you are seeing is not the truth. What you are hearing is not the truth.You know this, but you want to believe it. You want to share in the lie. You want to worship the image of the lie.
  12. Stagnation / Death-Before-Change - The instinct to remain still. Resistance to all change. Submission to status quo. The part of you that will watch a crime, a disaster, a horror occur and do nothing, that will hunker down and scream that the only possible option is to do nothing.
  13. The Neighbor / They-Are-Not-Like-Us - Fear of those closest to you for differences you neither recognize nor understand.
  14. Drifting / I-Don't-Know-Me - Loss of the sense of self, of noticing changes that you can't counter, unable to trace the path of how you became like this.

Sunday, March 8, 2020

d20 Magical Precipitations

That's rough, buddy.

A payment to Erika on the Discord for helping me out with formatting woes.

  1. Rain of Frogs - The classic. Where do they come from? Where do they go? No one knows.
  2. Blessed Rains - A little extra divine influence has rendered the coming rains at least mildly devout. Anyone who has recently been sinning that gets caught in it will come down with skin irritation and a bright red rash.
  3. Manna from Heaven - A glistening, milky-colored dew. When it evaporates in the morning, it leaves flaky residue of the same color everywhere. Edible, but tasteless and labor-intensive to gather.
  4. Reverse Rain - Water on the ground now goes up into the sky. If particularly strong, it'll start affecting the sewers and groundwater.
  5. Chaos Storm - Coruscating auroras of red/purple/black/octarine lash the world, mutating what they pass over.
  6. Death Rain - It's like normal rain, except it corrodes your soul to the breaking point of its tether to your body.
  7. Devil Eclipse - Many cultures think that eclipses are some monster eating the sun. This is not true. The moon is in fact doing its best to protect us from the unbridled screaming hate of the sun when it occasionally remembers that we exist.
  8. Abyssal Snow - Exactly the same as it is at the bottom of the ocean, now falling on land. Drifts and drifts of decaying organic particulate. Entire region will smell like a low-rent fish market for weeks afterwards.
  9. All-in-One - Sun, snow, rain, hail, sleet, wind, thunder, dark of night, all dumping down on your head like some titanic meteorological patchwork quilt of misery.
  10. Paradox Ice - Freezing rain that remains ice at room temperature.
  11. Devouring Mist -The pepto pink is not a friendly color. The pink is liquefied meat from the last person who stepped in it.
  12. Rods from God - An iron dowel, two meters long and just wide enough to fit in the arc of your thumb and forefinger, and thrown down from the heavens at catastrophically high fractions of a percent of C.
  13. Spore Clouds - Yellow-green-brown thunderhead formations darken the western sky, coming in fast, The fungal jungle has been agitated.
  14. Godsfall - When goes fight, gods will occasionally die. Those that do crash down to earth with all their blood and meat and shit, and all their angels too.
  15. Fertile Fall - A gentle, sweet-smelling rain that makes plants grow violently vast and impossibly healthy. Makes animals and people both rather fruitful and in the mood for it. Always a baby boom nine months later.
  16. Fairyrain - It shimmers, it glitters, it is repulsed from worked metal, and there's a five-times greater chance of being abducted by the Kindly Folk if you are caught out in it.
  17. Voxels - Ineffable glossy black cubes that sprout after the rain. They will stick together weakly, and after eight to ten hours will float up into the air and dissolve
  18. Soup - "Ow! That was a full carrot!"
  19. Meteor Shower - As the typical variety, but much more numerous. Pack a sturdy umbrella.
  20. Antiwater - Little pellets of mineral salts with bismuth angles, so dense and potent to be extremely poisonous.

Saturday, March 7, 2020

Lighthouse Rules 0.1

This idea has been percolating for a while. Not just a hack, but an actual ruleset.

Everything here is subject to change according to foppery and whim. 


Players are members of Lighthouse, a civilian volunteer organization that serves as an intermediary between the public and the paranormal, be that investigative, protective, interpretive, diplomatic, or scholarly.
  • The first notes for this idea are dating to the summer of 2012. Let it never be said that I am not terribly patient with my ideas.
  • Surprising no one, I am straight mainlining a whole lot of SCP influence on this one. More on that down the page.

Pithy Elevator Words

  • A game about the paranormal, poverty, and holding on to hope in a fucked up world.

What is the paranormal?

  • There is the 'normal'- the world defined by the laws of coherent cause and effect. The paranormal is everything that violates and bypasses this - paracausality. It shouldn't work, but here it is.
  • The world is anticanonical - fluff will be provided as starting points and leading questions, the reader will draw the connections between points.
  • No real-world folklore or esoteric tradition carries over into the setting. There are no fairies, vampires, werewolves, etc. If it ever looks like something like that, you ought to be suspicious, because it is definitely not the truth.
  • The paranormal is absurd, as well as terrifying and often beautiful.

What about the poverty?

  • You are neither rich nor powerful. You aren't playing as an organization with bottomless military black budget and cool toys. You have to make do with what you have.
  • Rich and powerful people do not have your interests in mind and they will do everything they can to fuck you over.
  • Humza Kazmi's community rules have a high priority of getting adapted in some way.

What's up with the fucked up world?

  • Police brutality, the surveillance state, voter suppression, catastrophic climate change, insulin rationing, ultranationalists in the streets, pick an expression of systematized oppression and it will fit here.
  • Because it is anticanonical, whether or not it is our own fucked up world is preferential. I prefer it as our own through a mirror darkly.
  • Players have to navigate, survive, and resist the course of the fucked-up world.
I love myself some new-weird-modern-paranormal-conspiracy-horror, but (and I am certainly not the first person to say this) conspiracies aren't particularly fun anymore. They are something to be resisted.

Really Though, What Do You Do? 

  • Weird shit is going down, go investigate it and try to keep everyone relatively safe.

Preliminary Rules

Corewise, this is a whole lot of GLOG and Black Hack, but for Esoteric Enterprises
  • I love me some EE for it's compatibility with basically everything else I own, but I want to experiment with making a rule set more directed to the theme I have in mind.
Core mechanic is roll-under stat on a d20
  • Straight from Black Hack. No need to change what works. It's nice and clean and I like it more than modifiers.
Stats are generated by rolling 4d4.
  • Pulled directly from GLOG. I like the range this gives, as even at the absolute minimum you still have a 20% chance of success, and at highest you end up with 80%. 
If for whatever reason a stat would go above 16, you get Advantage.
  • The only competition to advantage in my books is boons / banes from Shadow of the Demon Lord and since this is roll-under there's no simpler option than
The stats are (names subject to change) Body, Reflex, Mind, Spirit, Violence, and Thaumics
  • The Tough / Fast / Booksmart / Emotional Intelligence quartet is solid as hell and sells itself. It works in Shadow of the Demon Lord, it works in Disco Elysium, it just works.
  • Combat and magic get their own stats because they are separate disciplines. Just because someone is strong doesn't mean they are necessarily good at committing violence against other people, and just because someone is smart doesn't mean they can figure out the ontological knot of paracausality.  
  • Thaumics is absolutely getting a different name, probably an acronym because "applied paracausality" is a mouthful.
Skills, I'm not certain about skills.
  • Option 1: Skills work kinda like how they do in Troika!
    • Skills are added to the appropriate stat when you try to roll under. 
    • Minimum of 1, maximum of 4. Freeform, no set list.
    • Any skill can be used for any stat, if you can swing the reason why halfway well.
    • Skills that raise a stat above 16 just give you advantage vs 16.
  • Option 2: Skills give you advantage on that thing.
    • Can still be used for any stat if you can swing the reason,
Things That Are Definitely Going to Be Involved
  • Lateral Advancement -You will be able to spend Insight gained while out to unlock new abilities, learn new spells, purchase items, upgrade your hideout, or unlock changes to the world around you. Think of it has your carryover currency in a roguelike.
  • Armor negates damage - Straight from Black Hack. Since weapons will not do traditional damage in points, having typical damage reduction isn't needed.
  • Spells for everyone - Magic is fun, everyone gets to use the fun things.This is what the Thaumics stat is for - spells have a cost, and if you fail your roll, you get a fun backfire table!
  • Violence will fuck you up - Explanatory on its own.
Things That Are Definitely Not Featured
  • HP - If the hit is successful, there shouldn't be 'not getting hit points" to make it a technical miss. That's boring and I don't like it.
  • Levels and Traditional XP - Busywork. Toss it all.
  • Money - The only time money has ever been fun for me was a Unicorn Meat playtest where the players had to budget out their rations and decide how much they could afford to spend on supplies, if they could risk hunting for more meat, and how much was to be kept to eat and restore HP. I want that. Any currency (Demon Liquor, likely) will only be in single digits.
  • Worrying about food or light - Modern day game, these are irrelevant outside of special circumstances.
  • A traditional bestiary - No stats, just descriptions of how they interact with their environment.
Stress and Keeping Your Shit Together
  • Stress is player-directed. No interruptions from the referee calling for rolls breaking up the flow. When a player sees something that they would expect to freak out about, they make a Spirit check. On failure, they are forced into a fight/flight/freeze scenario, which might have an additional die roll (weighted according to the likeliness of outcomes)
Character Creation
  • As of now it seems to be a choice of three "cards", essentially - archetype, background, and occupation. Each of these will have a trait and 3-4 points of skills (if that is indeed how skills will go.)
  • It is very Troika! at the moment but I won't lie Trophy Gold is a fine piece of chargen too.
  • This part is the most up in the air at the moment. I might even choose to forgoe it entirely and just lead with a bunch of premades.
Other Things
  • Players will have input on creating the City, their hideout, and Delvers' the underworld hub-bar.
  • The scope is tightened to the City, the surrounding environs, and the Underworld.
 And that's where we are so far. Tell me what you think!