Sunday, June 28, 2020

Amazing Hidden Name Meanings

Hey spambots, thanks for providing me with filler post ideas.

50 Amazing Hidden Name Meanings

Note: Hidden names for humans change often and without warning. They are intensely intimate, closely guarded, and shared with few, and so spells to learn one require the consent of the subject to work (those spells that bypass that step are near-universally regarded as Bad News)

These names are good fits for NPC or player character inspiration

  1. My-Debt-Is-Crippling
  2. I-Must-Return-To-The-Sea
  3. I-Am-Devoured-By-Shame
  4. I-Have-Nothing-Left-to-Give
  5. Today-Is-A-Good-Day-I-Caught-A-Fish
  6. I-Am-Finally-Free-Of-His-Shadow
  7. The-Light-Is-Broken-But-I-Still-Work 
  8. My-Son-Has-Gone-to-War-I-Do-Not-Believe-He-Will-Return
  9. I-Do-Not-Believe-This-Is-My-Correct-Body
  10. The-Arm-is-Gone-But-I-Still-Feel-A-Twinge-of-Pain
  11. I-Care-An-Unhealthy-Amount-About-Romantic-Pairings-In-Elfish-Animation
  12. I-Am-Angry-About-Things-I-Do-Not-Understand-Out-Of-Fear
  13. She-Fills-Me-With-Light
  14. There-Was-A-Hole-Here
  15. I-Have-Accomplished-My-Exercise-Goal-For-The-Day
  16. Have-You-Seen-My-Dog?
  17. I-Have-Not-Yet-Realized-It-Cannot-Be-Fixed
  18. [Faint Buzzing Static]
  19. They-Will-Come-Back-For-Me-I'm-Sure-Of-It
  20. I-Despair-For-The-Future
  21. My-Muse-Has-Fled-From-Me
  22. We-Are-Not-Beaten-Yet
  23. It's-Too-Fucking-Hot-In-Here
  24. Thank-Gods-It-Was-Benign
  25. The-Anticipation-Is-Killing-Me
  26. Everything-Is-Falling-Into-Place-Precisely-As-Planned
  27. Oh-No-Was-That-The-Sound-Of-Bees
  28. Day-81-No-One-Has-Yet-Suspected-That-I-Am-A-Bear
  29. I-Just-Want-To-Take-Care-Of-All-The-Cats
  30. Astoundingly-No-One-Was-Injured-By-My-Incompetence
  31. Testing-Testing-Is-This-Thing-On
  32. Fuck-I-Locked-My-Keys-Inside
  33. This-Suffering-Is-But-Temporary.
  34. Too-Much-Noise-I-Want-To-Be-Alone
  35. Just-A-Few-More-Hourse-To-Go
  36. I-Am-Being-Followed
  37. Why-Will-No-One-Recognize-My-Genius
  38. [REDACTED]
  39. Turnip-Prices-Dove-Again-I'm-Ruined
  40. Man-I-Am-Glad-To-Be-Off-That-Island
  41. There-Appears-To-Have-Been-A-Terrible-Mistake
  42. Oh-Dear-Not-Again
  43. I-Feel-Beset-By-A-Fey-Mood
  44. Hold-On-I-Am-Going-To-Do-Something-Impressively-Foolish
  45. Lenghty-Extended-Sigh-Of-Exasperation
  46. I'm-Certain-There-Is-An-Entirely-Logical-Explanation-For-That
  47. The-Kids-Are-Not-All-Right
  48. I-Can-Do-It-I-Can-Do-It-Nine-Times
  49. Well-That-Was-A-Bust-Let's-Try-A-Different-Tactic
  50. I-Love-Moth

Sunday, June 21, 2020

Highlights from the Itch Bundle for Racial Justice

With over 1500 games involved this can't even be close to remotely comprehensive. I will be limiting it to games that have left a noteworthy positive impression on me.

Tabletop Games


World Builder (Michael Elliot)

A card-based game focused on creating a setting through fleshing out character backgrounds. Very easy to hack (as it's really all a bunch of random tables) if you want to adjust outcomes.

Ex Novo (Konstantinos Dimopolous)

A citybuilding, mapmaking game. Developments are rolled off a d666, dictating the rise and fall of factions, the growth of the city, new constructions, conflicts, resources, and so on. A great deal of fun, though if you're meaning to play it, remember that faction power gain loss can be any number (I was under the impression that they only gained 1 point at a time, which made the early game more difficult than it needed to be.

Following it with World Builder would, obviously, be a great idea.

Anomaly (+ Anomaly: Containment Breach) (Carter Richmond)

I was not expecting an SCP-themed Quiet Year hack in this bundle, but that's 2020 for you. The core is the same - draw card, answer prompts, start projects, keep on trucking. Anomaly on its own is about investigating and containing the Weird Thing, while Containment Breach is about what happens while you've got it locked up.

Our Pantheon (D.W. O'Boyle)

A hack of the venerable Dawn of Worlds, providing a little bit more chance and structure with the addition of PBtA-style actions

Following it with Ex Novo and then World Builder would be, if very extra, probably a good idea.

Yokai Hunters Society (Chema Gonzalez)

A hack of Nate Treme's Tunnel Goons, where you play as members of the titular organization and do the thing on the title. It overflows with flavor and focus (in just 36 pages!) and uses its brevity to maximum efficiency - You have the pieces you need to get started, and a direction to travel. The core conceit is a brilliant choice, because it shifts the game away from "here is a monster, kill it" to "try and find out why the monster is here, see if you can fix the problem", and that sort of de-emphasized violence in a horror investigation game is, as one might guess from certain projects of mine, very much my jam.

There are a great deal of other games worth mention here: So You Got Thrown Down a Well, the Penicillin zines, The Wretched, The Sealed Library, and so on and so forth.

Video Games



You know how some video games just feel good to play? You press the button and the person on the screen does the thing and it feels right, in ways that can't be adequately expressed? That's Celeste.

It is a super tough game - I can't recall any other that gets my hands to sweat that copiously - but it is rewarding in equal measure. More praise than I can fit here should be heaped upon the way they approach Assist mode (you can customize exactly what kind of assistance you want!) and the friendly load-screen reminders that there's nothing locked behind strawberries and don't be ashamed of your death count.


It's a visual novel / rpg / sports game / religious ritual simulator made by Supergiant and it is gorgeous. It's a work that I can truly call fantastic, not only for how it looks and how it sounds, but in how it creates and establishes something that is unlike anything else around it, and does not lose sight of what gives it power. Every single screenshot in this game would make a good desktop background. All the characters are great. They made a conlang just for extra flavor and then made dialects to reflect different characters' backgrounds.


A walking simulator about exploring an abandoned cult compound. It is presented with a grounded empathy that I rarely see (but greatly appreciate). It's a horror game in a sense, but without a direct threat, or music cues, or any of the trappings of genre.

Also when I made a comment about a bug with the sound, the dev had put up a fixed version within an hour of responding to me. That's always a kudo.

Death and Taxes

A short game in the vein of Papers Please. Not particularly challenging (at least gameplay wise), but it is much faster to play than its spiritual predecessor, which is good at encouraging taking multiple routes. Very charming aesthetics & music. VA work is good.


Reviews of this game are superfluous. All one needs to do is watch and listen, and they will know.


Simple space exploration game with randomly generated planets. You can only ever move forward on your quest, so you can never return to a location.

The Floor is Jelly

Platformer where everything is jelly. A bit tricky to control at times but then you pull off some amazing air time or slip through the depressions in the walls and then everything clicks.

Heavy Bullets

A simple lunchbreak-length roguelite shooter.


Bonus: Dissident Whispers

Not part of the bundle directly, but aimed towards the same end. This book deserves to go down as a gold standard - 58 adventures for 12 different systems, assembled in a matter of days, all proceeds to bail funds. There is potency in this book. I can't wait to run something from it.

What are your favorites? Post 'em in the comments!

Wednesday, June 17, 2020

Minimodule 3 Part 2: ATTACK AND DETHRONE GOD


Picking up where we left off...

The battle of Yetek works like the opening sequence of Deep Carbon Observatory - everything is happening at once, you never get a chance to catch your breath. Pick one of the three entries into the city: you will be able to see anything that the arrows are pointing to. Your goal is the temple in the center.

There is a twist here: The God of Ankhar is also active and will move around the city. Every time the PCs move between events, roll d6.
  • 1-2: The God stays where it is.
  • 3-4: The God moves 1 space.
  • 5-6: The God moves 2 spaces.
If there are multiple routes it can take, a d6 roll divided by two or three as applicable will direct where the mad one goes.

What if I Don't Want Hyperlethality?

  • Option 1: Grievous Wounds - If you drop below 0, use Emmy Allen's grievous wounds here.
  • Option 2: Replacement characters - Use this handy Knave generator. You start with  a sword or spear, a shield, and Armor 13.
  • Option 3: Take A Break HP - You recover all lost HP when you get a moment to collect yourselves (Bath House, Elephant Enclosure, Arena without the manticore)

The Main Gate

Who needs a ram when you have Ayo?
  • A chaotic mass of soldiers (HD 4 HP 25, d8 damage, Defense 13, morale 8) waits on the other side. The formation will break after it hits 0 HP.

Over the Wall

The ladders! Get up the ladders!
  • Takes 2 rounds to get up to the top. Defenders will hurl down stones (DEX save vs d8 damage) or burning oil (DEX save vs d6 damage for d4 turns). Successfully hitting someone at the top of the wall will interrupt the attack.

Through the Drainage

Hold your breath.
  • Takes extra time to feel your way through the dark - the God rolls twice for movement. The Enemy camp is reduced to Low Chaos.
  • Crocodile attack! (5 HD 25 HP, 14 armor, d8 bite, morale 8, WIS save with disadvantage vs surprise attack, will attempt to death-roll after a successful attack)
  • Senech must use both hands to keep her guns and ammo from getting ruined. If this changes for any time, all her weapons have a 50% chance of being useless.
  • You are all caked in filth and smell terrible.

The Town

People running in chaos, soldiers fighting in the streets.
  • Combat is deafening. People are fighting house-to-house, you can barely tell who is enemy and who is friend.
    • Individual combat in this area would be miserable, so it will be abstracted like this: each player may grab as many d20s as they wish (including 0). They will roll them all at once. Each success (over 13) means they are able to break up a cluster of enemy soldiers and will be granted 1 Reinforcements (more on that later). Failure means they will take d8 damage.

Artist's Alley

Still filled with the impaled bodies of those deemed to have been working idolatrous crafts.
  • A mass of soldiers (HP 15, d8 damage, Defense 13, morale 8) runs through the streets to where the main fighting is.
  • From an upper-story window, an old man cries out: "Send them back to whatever demon's teat they sucked on!" He tosses the party a figurine of the Mother of Dawn, which possesses 1 charge each of 3 different spells:

The Market

Looted and smashed to bits.
  • A mass of soldiers (HD 3 HP 20, d8 damage, Defense 13, morale 8) charges on to reinforce their fellows at the gate.
  •  A Scholar and a Clown have taken shelter under an overturned fruit cart. If the soldiers are dispersed, they introduce themselves as the "Sons of Thunder" and will gift the party a smooth grey stone which, if thrown on the ground, will blind and deafen anyone nearby, after which they will use one of their own and run away.


The Baths

An old, sturdy complex of buildings where folk would purify themselves before heading to the Temple.
  • Townsfolk have barricaded themselves inside. CHA check or the head of Malenairis needed for entry.
  • Three sailors are lounging around in peace, despite the chaos outside. One is Tall, one is Fat, and one is Old. They generally (as they will inform you) don't tend to do anything much at all, but their ship is down in the harbor just outside the city and they'll be able to smuggle people out of the warzone and down the coast to friendly territory.
    • This is an emergency means of escape, should the party become too injured to continue on to victory.

The Stables

The stench of camel dung and the terrible sounds of animals in terror fill the air.
  •  The horses are panicking, and the stablehands are unable to keep them under control.
    • Releasing the horses will cause a stampede. If the Enemy Camp is Low Chaos, it is now High Chaos. If it is already High Chaos, the mass of soldiers' HP is reduced to 20.

The Arena

Where once there were chariot races and theater services, Malenairis transformed it into a place of bloodshed.
  • The manticore (HD 6, HP 30 Armor 13 2 1d6 claws OR 2d6 bite OR poison quills - ranged, CON save or keel over frothing at the mouth) has been fed on townsfolk since the occupation began, and like any overfed cat it has decided to sleep it off for twenty hours a day. (If it is not woken up, a surprise round is made.)
    • The manticore's quills are coated with a deadly poison (alas, the manticore itself is immune). They can be removed without waking it (DEX with disadvantage) and thrown like knives.
    • The manicore's gut is filled with 2d6 soul-pearls. Eating one of these will allow a PC to revive after hitting 0 HP, recovering half of their max. They can be eaten multiple times, but further revivals require re-rolling the PC's hit die - if the sum is lower than their current max HP, that number is their new maximum. If it is higher, they permanently lose 1 max HP.


The Enemy Camp (Low Chaos)

Malenairis' lieutenants have managed to establish order among the main body of soldiers.
  • Mass of Soldiers (HD 7 HP 40, d8 damage, Defense 13, morale 8)
    • For every point of Reinforcements the party has, remove 2 HP from the enemy.

The Enemy Camp (High Chaos)

The soldiers of Ankhar fight amongst themselves now, leaderless and in a panic. This is the default state of the Camp.
  • Mass of Soldiers (HD 5 HP 30, 2d6 damage, Defense 13, morale 6)
    • For every point of Reinforcements the party has, remove 2 HP from the enemy. 


The Palace

Once home to the queen and her consorts, then home to Malenairis and his lieutenants, now ablaze.
  • Soldiers scramble about, trying to form a bucket chain.
  • It's possible to rush in and salvage some of the treasures within, as follows
    • Players who go into the palace must make a DEX save. On failure, they will take 1d6 damage from heat and smoke inhalation. Either way, they will recover 1 slot worth of art and treasures, which will be 1-3 of your people or 4-6, Ankhar plunder of other nations. Either might be handed over for gold.

The Gardens

A moment of quiet, but not for long. The fire of the palace casts dancing shadows among the date trees and palms.
  • The Widow and Handmaid signal the party from their hiding spot with the call of a screech owl. They have Malenairis' head in a basket and are trying to find a way out of the city. 
    • The Baths provide the safest option, seconded by the party's direct protection. If they try to escape on their own, they will not make it beyond the walls.

The Elephant Enclosure

A makeshift wooden palisade set up in the gardens abutting the palace.
  • The elephant (HD 15, HP 75, 2d6 tusks x2 or 4d8 trample) is old, imprisoned, and grieves still for the loss of her herd. Her only comfort is the blind, deaf elephant handler who has been her companion for 40 years. She hates the Ankhar soldiers with depths that cannot be imagined. 
    • If she is freed from her chains, she will will fight alongside the players. Should she survive (and should the players keep going with these characters), all elephants shall be their allies.
    • If Ayo has any booze left, the elephant will sniff it out and down it all. She will fly into a rage, and all of her attacks will do double damage.

The Temple

The statues have been toppled, the frescoes scratched out by spearpoint, the mosaics torn up with shovels. The desecration is total, gleefully done. In the center of the wreckage a pavilion has been erected,a tent of shimmering indigo cloth whose dimensions are so perfectly measured that it hurts to look at it: the angles are too sharp. An altar has been erected in front of the tent; blood from the sacrifice of sheep and bulls already stains the scarred image of the Mother of Dawn on the floor.
  • The chief priest and his acolytes have hunkered down here. They are shaken by witnessing the God's departure. They are unarmed and unskilled in combat, but they remain defiant and utterly unbearable
  • This is the home of the God of Ankhar. He is not likely to be here.
  • The Azazel remains inside the tent.

The God of Ankhar

A naked manlike figure, twelve feet tall with golden skin and fiery beard. He has been mutilated by his worshipers: eyes cut out, ears cut off, feet hobbled. Screams and babbles incoherently. Masturbates furiously.

HD 9 HP 45 Armor 15 1d10+3 stone pillar, Morale 11 Can throw bolts of divine lightning (3d6, cooldown 5)


The Azazel

A bloated black goat just a bit smaller than the elephant. It has grown fat on Ankhar's sin, taking on all of their crimes against humanity into itself so they might absolve themselves of guilt.

The Azazel will not try to fight: it will permit itself to be killed. This will curse the party with the Mark of the Goat - they will not be welcomed in any city this side of the Indus if they bear that mark.

(MAKE SURE THE CURSE IS CLEARLY COMMUNICATED. PCs will have bad vibes about killing it - too easy, walking into a trap, whatever. Don't use it as a gotcha.)

Useful notes
  • The Azazel hates fire - that alone will spur it to move. Sunlight is even worse and can kill it without triggering the Mark of the Goat.
  • The Azazel is incredibly heavy, but could easily be chained up and dragged by the elephant.
  • The Azazel always lies, convincingly. It wants people to sin, so it can feed.
  • The Azazel will offer forgiveness of sins via transferral. This will require swearing a covenant with it, which will entail consistently and continuously feeding it through greater acts of evil.
  • The Azazel can be exiled without killing it - driving it out with fire or hauling it to the harbor and setting it adrift on the sailors' ship.
If the God has not been dealt with, it will interfere if there is an attempt to move the Azazel from its tent.

Final Reckoning

  • If the God of Ankhar is killed - Ankhar'swar effort is broken. Even if they survive and regroup, the loss of their general and their god in one night is too much. They will not visit this place again for generations.
  • If the God of Ankhar lives - It will return to the tent of the Azazel, if possible. If the Azazel is dead, it will limp out of the city, either to the Ankhar encampment (Low Chaos) or out into the desert alone (High Chaos)
  • If the Enemy Camp is in Low Chaos - Ankhar's forces retreat and regroup outside the city under the command of surviving
  • If the Enemy Camp is in High Chaos - Ankhar's forces are routed in their entirety. No surrender or orderly retreat is possible.
  • If the Azazel is...
    • Killed - PCs inherit the Curse of the Goat
    • Banished - Depending on method, it will either die a true death under the sun or slink away into the night, to emerge again some other cursed time.
    • Untouched - It will be taken with the retreating Ankhar soldiers OR the liberating army will find and have to deal with it.
    • Joined by Covenant - The PCs will be driven to lead the counter-attack, pillaging Ankhar's lands with equivalent cruelty. If the Widow and Handmaid survive, the war will eventually unseat the king of Ankhar himself.
  • If treasure recovered > 5 - The PCs can gain enough coin through rewards from return or profit from sale to retire to a wonderful little island somewhere, at least until they need to murder another god.
  • If the Widow and Handmaid are safely extracted from the city - The triumph over Malenairis brings not only all the people of the nearby cities together, but the hill tribes as well. This unified resistance not only drives Ankhar out of these lands, but helps to establish a new queen..
  • If the PCs die without dealing with the God or the Azazel - The Ankhar war machine continues despite the loss of its general. Your land is conquered.

Friday, June 12, 2020

30 Words that Don't Exist

It's filler time! Here are some prime results swiped and adapted from this here internet website, which may be of use to you.

30 Words of Dubious Existence

  1. mallettante (n): a small wooden figure with curved projecting ribs, often identified as a model of the Virgin Mary.
  2. tricothetik (n): a small, heavy flat-bottomed brass coffin, typically an antique.
  3. offredo (n): an artistic work devoted to or in the celebration of a game or occasion
  4. spitskool (n): a soft, soft ball made of spun yarn with a triangular spike forming the top
  5. incumulus (n): (in ancient Greece and Rome) the outer layer of a body of troops prepared for execution
  6. shan (v): to strike; to strike someone or something with a sword.
  7. inconsequentialism (n): a belief held or suggested by a person irrelevant to the situation.
  8. flabberto (n): a bright red, bulb-shaped citrus fruit. It is obtained from the sea and commonly dried.
  9. seedsie (n): a member of the leading science fiction group in the 1960s and early 1970s, originally formed by...
  10. dreadfield (n): a place where a bomb has exploded or will explode.
  11. pyrrhizoid (adj): (of a disease) causing a spike of coloration
  12. thornbird (n): a  black-and-white southern Asian bird with conspicuous feathers and a long hairy tail that typically favors yellowish-gray plumage
  13. columpost (n): a soft reddish-brown, partly transparent, edible, or slightly translucent white food of many tropical and temperate regions
  14. flirch (v, intran): to sew or manipulate lips
  15. chitterbasery (n): a type of gambling for boys
  16. colicarium (n): a dark red
  17. paintbob (n): a man that is famous
  18. serlet (n): a large transparent sphere or capsule in which food or drink is sold.
  19. delocalist (n): a person who campaigns for the exclusive use of certain words or specific languages in political campaigns
  20. sliverworm (n): a small greenish worm which feeds on red plants and molds, native to swamps and Indian forests
  21. submissivist (adj): relating to or indicating submissiveness; hostile to or antagonistic to socialism
  22. loafie (n): a person who sells bread and cheese
  23. registerium (n): the province of a priest
  24. empow (n): the flesh of a cow
  25. jibberjacking(n): casual or ungracious behavior by a person, especially one that shows signs of being aggressive 
  26. honeyspray (n): a thick, transparent liquid sprayed over skin to clean and smooth it.
  27. placemount (n): a small or inferior landowner.
  28. inet-lobe (n): a member of an organized Internet communications network, its members being called on to receive...
  29. stompa (n): a violent stomping of the feet. 
  30. slugbait (n): a pretentious, biased depiction of oneself in art or literatur.
Judging by some of the definitions here, this bot is a proper comrade. Good bot.

Tuesday, June 9, 2020


Massimilano Haematinon Nigro

A level 4 adventure for Knave for 4 players, cribbing from the GLOG.

This started as a joke, and it has gotten completely out of hand.

Let it never be said that I do not give my all whilst shitposting.

The Apocrypals are to blame for much of this.

The swordwife class was made by Phlox.

This is part 1, being the premade PCs. Part 2 will be the adventure proper.


Long has this land fallen under the shadow of distant Ankhar. Long have its people endured the overflowing violence from its wars with Tishar and Zet. But now Ankhar sweeps down into our lands to conquer and devour.

Who is this god that the priests of Ankhar praise, this god who hides beneath veils? Who is this god they carry before their armies as they pillage our lands and enslave our people? Who is this god that desecrates our high places and demands that he alone be worshiped? Who demands obedience to a cruel and distant king?

Ankhar's great general Malenairis has camped in the city of Yetek. His god has taken up residence in the temple there, desecrating the sanctuary of the Mother of Dawn and killing her attendants.

He believes that he might march on from Yetek conquer us unopposed, just as he did the cities in the north.

Vanity! In the depths of the night, he has lost his head: for he was drunk on wine and thought that no threat might come from the widow and her handmaid.

Break down the gates of Yetek, wives of the sword, and cast out the army of the tyrant.


Dhaibr, Swordwife (WHITE HORSE)

"While men seek earthly pleasures, I study the blade."

  • Lean. Scarred. Dark. Frizzy hair. Disciplined. Detached. Precise speech. Melancholic.
  • Art of Flying Blades - Swords, especially enemy swords, can be used as projectiles.
  1. Desperate Dodge - 1/combat, can drop 1d4 items to avoid all damage from an attack.
  2. Find the Opening - If attacking someone who attacked her on their turn, she gain either +2 to hit or +2 damage.
  3. Bronze Tongue - Can speak the languages of metals.
  4. 'Til Death - Cannot be struck by a fatal blow so long as she consciously holds a sword.
  5. Bronze sword (1d8) - Forged by her mother during labor.
  6. ""        ""
  7. Iron sword (1d8) - Severs the soul from the body. Prevents the spirit from returning.
  8. ""        ""
  9. Mithril sword (1d8) - Cuts through any material weaker than iron. Shatters on a 20.
  10. ""        ""
  11. Phosphorus Dagger (1d6) - Glows with an actinic white light when struck against rock.
  12. Bronze breastplate - Defense 14
  13. ""        ""
  14. ""        ""

Ayo, Mountain-Stance Adipomonk (RED HORSE)

"Reach heaven through...ah you know what comes next."

  • Towering. Corpulent. Curly hair. Gregarious. Gluttonous. Booming speech. Sanguine.
  • Adipomancy - Ayo casts magic by rolling Bulk Die, and then reading the [Sum] or [Dice] as written. Any dice that come up as 6 are burnt and cannot be recovered without eating an additional ration.
  1. Bulk die (d6), bonuses only apply past 1 die.
  2. Bulk die (d6), +2 defense
  3. Bulk die (d6), +2 defense
  4. Bulk die (d6), +2 defense
  5. Mountain Stance - Cannot move. Cannot be knocked down. All damage moves up 1 die size.
  6. Ironshod Greatclub (1d10) - And this is my thwacking stick!
  7. ""        ""
  8. ""        ""
  9. Frighteningly large jug of booze - Contains 3 charges of drunkenness. 
  10. Belly Drum (spell) - Cuts current HP in half - points lost may be distributed among future damage rolls.
  11. Breath of Fire (spell) - [Sum] damage in a 15' cone. Consumes 1 charge of booze.
  12. Metabolic Overdrive (spell) - Recover [Sum] HP
  13. Gravity Pull (spell) target within [Sum] x 5 feet is pulled in a straight line towards Ayo. Target gets a save to resist.
  14. MESHI MESHI MESHI MESHI ORA! - Burn a bulk die. Gain an extra attack. Explodes on 6.

Anbara, Book Club Witch (BLACK HORSE


  • Tiny. Tanned. Cropped hair. Excitable. Aggressive. Rapid speech. Horny on main. Choleric.
  • Literate: As a priestess of the scribe god, Anbara can read and write. It's not technically magic, but it might as well be in these days.
  1. Blessed robes and ibis mask - Defense 12
  2. Dusty tome of ancient and forgotten lore - Required to cast spells
  3. Bronze spear (1d8)
  4. ""        ""
  5. Command (spell) - Issue a 3 word command to target. Target gets save.
  6. Bookspeak (spell) - Books and scrolls disclose their contents.
  7. Reveal Invisible (spell) - A silvery powder
  8. Sign of Thoth (spell) - A doorway is marked so that enemies of CL or lower HD cannot enter.
  9. Burning Cloud (spell) - Burning red grit deals CL damage / turn, 15' radius.
  10. Memory Fog (spell) - Target's memories of the last CL hours become muddled and indistinct.
  11. Hypergeometry (spell) -Move through doors, walls, objects, individuals, open space for CL x 5'.

Senech, Gun-Saint of An-Hehm (PALE HORSE)

[Escalate immediately to gun violence]

  • Sallow. Wiry. Oily hair. Burn scar. Tolerant. Lazy. Whispered speech. Phlegmatic.
  • Nimblefingers - Senech can reload a weapon or change ammo types without spending a turn if she switches to another weapon for that turn.
  1. Reinforced schema habit - Defense 13
  2. Pistol (1d8, 6 shots)
  3. Hand cannon (1d10, 1 shot) - + to hit and damage at short range, - to hit and damage at long range, can hit 2 adjacent targets (roll once for damage and halve)
  4. ""        ""
  5. Black powder grenade (2d6, ignores armor, 10' radius)
  6. Hellian fire grenade (1d6, flammable oil, 10' radius)
  7. Ammo pouch (Standard, 24 shots)
  8. Ammo pouch (Blessed, 12 shots, double damage to magical beings)
  9. Ammo pouch (Buckshot, 6 shots)
  10. Ammo pouch (Incendiary shot, 4 shots)

Monday, June 8, 2020


Peter Konig, Arrival concept art

Second in my series of unfinished adventures.

MiniModule 1

This one is rather unfinished and very awkward at the end, but like the previous minimodule, it's more of a trigger into other adventures so that's not a huge issue.


An adventure for Mothership

Hook: One hundred and two hours ago, a spaceship of unknown origin appeared in orbit around a lonely ice giant in a backwater red dwarf system. Seventy-five hours ago, it started broadcasting a radio signal - a short, very powerful, unmodulated narrowband blip of 1420 megahertz repeated every 20 seconds. It has done nothing else in that time.

The impossible has happened. In a voice as loud as the angel's first trumpet, intelligent alien life has announced its presence on our very doorstep.

Players: A hastily thrown-together team pulled from whoever was on hand at the corporate research station in the inner system. They didn't care much about qualifications, just so long as you signed the whopper of an NDA and record EVERYTHING.

The Mission

  1. Investigate the ship. Record and report everything.
  2. Determine if ship and occupant(s) are hostile.
  3. Determine nature of ship and its occupants.
  4. If direct contact is made, all actions are to be in line with the Ceres Accords. (ie science is the only universal language, do not presume intent, verify all data)
  5. Return to station. Violation of NDA will be pursued to full extent of the law.

The Ship  

An oblate spheroid of pockmarked black ice, nearly 5 km long. Cursory study would indicate that it is a captured iceteroid with propulsion systems built into it. It is presumed to have hyperspace capabilities. Its inhabitants are presumed to be possess equivalent or greater technological capabilities.

The radio signals are coming from an obvious external transceiver located directly beside a hole in the ice shell. An umbilical could easily be attached between the PC's ship's airlock and the tunnel.

About 3 meters down the ice tunnel, the PCs will pass through what is clearly an airlock and into The Chamber

The Chamber

  • Gravity = Yes (~0.25G)
  • Atmosphere = Yes (Not breathable)
  • Temperature = Frigid
A wide circular room with a low ceiling. The PCs can just barely walk upright without hitting their heads  The walls are a glossy black substance and are barely differentiated from the floor, causing mild disorientation in the low gravity (it appears and feels as if you are suspended on air or thin glass above a great pit). The far wall, opposite the airlock, is somewhat flattened. There are no other apparent exits.

At this point, set a real-world timer. An hour is good. When it runs out, the Interlopers will arrive.


The Ship is a test, sent by the intelligent inhabitants of a frozen methane world similar to Titan, to gauge if humanity is safe to interact with, and what specific steps would be needed to do so.
  • The aliens should not appear during the scenario. They might not even be on the ship.
  • The aliens are close enough to humanity for meaningful cross-species communication, but they do not think like humans: they are patient, deliberate, very old, very slow and they do not like risks.
  • The aliens have been aware of humanity for several decades, but have spent most of that time deliberating whether or not to reveal themselves. They have managed to decode enough broadcasts to be very worried about us.

Events in the Chamber

The first event triggers when the PCs enter the Chamber, and will repeat until the completion criteria is met. When completion criteria is met, the Flattened Wall will clear and the next event will trigger.

Warden's note: Don't call them tests until (and if) the players figure out their purpose. 

The Flattened Wall
A simple visual display with touch interaction. PCs can easily draw and erase shapes on it.

It will not recognize words, letters or numbers.

Test 1: Sense-Detection
A series of colored circles appears in a grid on the flattened wall, ranging from deep red to dark purple. 
  • Scanning the wall with thermal or UV equipment reveals an extended grid of circles visible only in those wavelengths.
  • Touching a circle will cause it to disappear.
Completion Criteria: Touching visible circles will cause the event to end once there has been a pause in the activity. Otherwise, it will wait about 5 minutes (in-game) before transitioning.
Complication: Touching non-visible circles or not touching any will cause the ship to misinterpret sensory abilities and display further tests with colors that require a scanner to read.

Test 2: Mirror Test
The wall becomes reflective.
  • Investigating the wall will reveal that the PCs' reflections have a small (but noticeable) discoloration somewhere on their spacesuits.
Completion Criteria: Automatic, will complete in 1 minute (in-game). Purely to gauge the PCs' reactions.

Test 3: Basic Numbers
Clusters of circles appear on the wall in sequence: 1/2/3/4
Completion Criteria: A PC draws a new cluster of 5 circles.

Test 4: Prime Numbers
Clusters of circles appear on the wall in sequence: 2/3/5/7
Completion Criteria: A PC draws a new cluster of 11 circles.

Test 5: Fibonacci Sequence 
Clusters of circles appear on the wall in sequence: 1/1/2/3/5
Completion Criteria: A PC draws a new cluster of 8 circles

Test 6: Symbolic Thinking
Clusters of circles appear on the wall in sequence from 1-16. Each of these is accompanied by unique, sinuous shape, including one associated with a blank spot on the wall.

A separate section of wall will display a dot cluster or a symbol. When the appropriate counterpart is drawn, both will vanish and a new one will be displayed. This will continue for a short time, and include displays of multiple symbols or clusters (you can slip some basic addition in here too)

Warden's note: the aliens count in base-16 hexidecimal, with symbols that resemble their manipulator appendages. They are using a simplified version of it here; a proper equation looks more like an information-dense knot of spaghetti

Test 7: Right Angles
A single circle appears on the wall and proceeds to draw a right angle.
Completion Criteria: A PC makes a right angle with their arms or draws a hypotenuse.

Test 8: Pythagorean Theorem
A single circle appears on the wall and proceeds to move, drawing a right angle. The 3 symbol appears below the short leg and 4-symbol next to the upright leg.
Completion Criteria: A PC draws a hypotenuse and correctly numbers it with 5 dots or the 5-symbol.

Test 9: Basic Chemistry
Two symbols appear next two each other:
  • A circle, surrounded by a ring, upon which is a second, smaller circle.
  • A cluster of 16 small circles, surrounded by a ring with 2 circles, and a second ring with 6.
Completion Criteria: Drawing a second hydrogen atom
Alternatively: Set up the atom diagrams to form a partial methane molecule.

You can elide the part where the aliens assign a symbol to each element on the periodic table, because that would take a long while.

If players seem to be having fun with these, a few more tests can be filled in here at your discretion.

Final Test: Altruism
The wall turns transparent, revealing windows into two separate chambers. Both chambers have a large glowing spot below the window.
  • Chamber 1 contains three humans in spacesuits, bearing the livery of a rival Company.
    • Warden's note: do not specify if these are real people or simulations.
    • The chamber is split in half by a dividing wall. On the other side is a canister that is labeled with the symbols for cobalt-60 (at this point presume that the players can read the alien element diagrams with fluency)
  • Chamber 2 contains a canister labeled with symbols indicating antihydrogen - worth a fortune in miniscule amounts, worth enough to purchase several solar systems if the container is full.
If the spot for Chamber 1 is pressed, a second canister will appear in Chamber 2. This will continue until eight cylinders are deposited. If all eight are rejected, the container of cobalt-60 will be removed from its chamber before the wall returns to an opaque state.

If the spot for Chamber 2 is pressed:
  • The wall will open, permitting access to all the canisters within. Each one contains approximately ten kilograms of antihydrogen. Each canister is worth enough to purchase a core system in its entirety, including and all ships and infrastructure within it.
  • The partition in Chamber 1 will lower, killing the people within almost but not quite instantaneously. It is not a good way to go. Ramp this up as high as your players are comfortable with.

The Interlopers

The timer that was set earlier (swiped directly from Mellonbread's adaptation of Ross Peyton's BESTOW), indicates when the players will get an automated message of a second ship emerging from hyperspace right on top of the alien vessel. The actual nature of these interlopers is left vague here, and the slot can be filled with whatever faction the warden deems fit (it's a good way to introduce rivals or other major players.)

Whoever they are, the interlopers want access to the data, if not the Ship itself. They may or may not be violent themselves.

Nonviolent resolution should always be an option. Getting it in the players' favor, however, should likely be difficult.

Potential Outcomes

The aliens response to humanity hinges on this blind test.
  • If the players choose Chamber 1 -
    • If the players resolve The Interlopers peacefully - "Humans are capable of altruism and avoiding conflict" - The aliens will feel safe enough with their chances to open up diplomatic ties with human polities and exchange information as well as goods.
    • If the players resolve The Interlopers violently - "Humans are capable of altruism but are prone to violence."  The aliens will remain distant, contacting humanity only for occasional resource trade. Their civilization remains hidden, and they will share no more than the most basic information about themselves.
  • If the players choose Chamber 2...
    • If the players resolve The Interlopers peacefully - "Humans value resources over life but can be negotiated with" - The aliens will remain distant, contacting humanity only for occasional resource trade. Their civilization remains hidden, and they will share no more than the most basic information about themselves. In the future, players might hear news reports of an increase in survey ships along the Rim going missing (as they run into alien perimeter defenses)
    • If the players resolve The Interlopers violently - "Humans value resources over life and cannot be negotiated with" -  The aliens make a pre-emptive strike on a Rim world, threatening to continue until protective border treaties are made. They will shoot down any human vessel coming within Jump 3 of their territory.

Saturday, June 6, 2020

Lighthouse Design Corner: The Core Mechanic

These posts on twitter are always popular with folks, but twitter is a burning garbage fire on a good day and there haven't been many good days of late. So have the bigger version.

The Core Mechanic

I'm trying to get everything roll under on a d20.There are five stats, which are generated by rolling 4d4 (and so your success range, barring modification, is between 20 and 80% - if something would raise it above that level, it's just automatically granted advantage).

Body - Raw strength, endurance, gross motor skills, pushing your limits.

Reflex - Reaction, finesse, fine motor skills, hand-eye coordination.

Mind - Recall, deduction, computation, conceptualization.

Spirit - Willpower, empathy, charisma, gut checks.

Combat - The ability to commit violence against another being

So far so typical. These are general, and I'm not planning on doing a formal skill system ("eh, you'd know how to do that, roll with advantage" is the phrase of the day).

My main divergence is that I'm going to treat as much else as I can as stats on their own, rather than as modifiers to your own stats (in most cases - those modifiers will still exist here and there.)

This is where the lateral advancement comes into play, with Insights.

Every Lighthouse character comes with a number of Insight slots. Some backgrounds might start you with a few filled by default, but ordinary folks will start with a blank slate. Each slot costs 1 Insight to open, and then you can fill it with any of the Insights that you've unlocked for yourself.

A Confession: This is whole-heartedly stolen from the Thought Cabinet in Disco Elysium)

An Actual Quandary: Insight has morphed into both "special thing about your character" as well as "currency used to buy / unlock those special things". This is likely to pose problems in the future, so I need to figure out which one is what and find a replacement for the other.

So say you get a nifty new power, or a new magical item, or a new ally - you'll pencil that in on your character sheet with whatever number is associated with it, and whenever you're going to call on that resource you'll roll a d20 and try to get under, or burn off a point of its stat, or sometimes both. And if you happen to get a lot of Insight burning a hole in your pocket, you can upgrade the stats of your Insights (oh no the quandary!)

Most group insights will likely not take up a slot.

Some Insights, the ones that just are the way they are and there's no chance they can fail, do not have a stat.

Some generic Insight structures can include:
  • Burn point > get effect, no roll required.
  • Burn point > get effect, roll stat to determine if complication occurs
  • Always works, no roll required
  • Always works, roll stat to determine if complication occurs
  • Roll stat to determine success / failure

    Or in more practical examples:
    • Convocation Call (5) - Burn one point to send a voice message of under a minute via sparrow. Regain a point by taking time out of your day to go feed the birds in the park. You can increase points in storage above 5.
    • Blunted Knife (X) - A chipped butcher's chopper, heavy as lead and possessing a permanently dull blade. Completely useless against wood, flesh, or bone, but can cut metal and stone without resistance.
    • The Blue Notebook (4) - The creature it calls forth hovers, crouched, indistinct and tense, in the corner of your vision. It is very hungry. It hates you in particular, but cannot yet strike back. It will hunt down and kill a target if you offer it one of their possessions. You will always gain a point of Hamartia for its use. Every time you roll above this Insight's score, increase it by one. If you roll successfully, increase it by two. If it reaches 16, the creature will be freed from its binding. It will go after your contacts first.
    • Angry Tom (Minor Contact 10) - Activist, freelance layout guy, specialist marijuana gardener, very, very angry acquaintance. Roll under 10 to see if you can get some help. Rolling over means he is too busy, or getting the help would require you to provide something else to him.
    Tune in next time when I talk about how combat is going to work, and the cost of committing violence.