Saturday, August 28, 2021



click here for the goods



DOG GOD has returned, almost a full year since its first installment. Volumes 1 and 2 have been properly scanned (no more shitty phone photos!) and compiled with the material I had made for Vol. 3 (which I had made enough of to bleed over into a fourth if I wanted), resulting in a handsome 52 pages of magazine cutups for your inspiration needs. 

I promise nothing but jank (all befitting the name of DOG GOD, of course), but I am happy with the end result. Cutup and blackout are woefully underutilized in this sphere, and hopefully this might inspire folks to recycle some of their old magazines. I'd love to see some DOG APOCRYPHA floating around out there.

DOG GOD is here. All hail DOG GOD.




I had been planning on a reflection post, since 400 posts leaves a whole lot of material to look back on, but to be very up front about things 2021 has not been a particularly good year, personally or creatively. A thousand thousand little stresses have built up upon each other and been compounded by the total loss of any sense of the passage of time. Periods of burnout seem to come more frequently and with greater intensity. My drafts folder becomes a graveyard, my words slabs of lead dropping lifeless to the ground. I cut trenches in the earth trying to push the boulder uphill. Attempts at running games fizzle out on contact. On a good day, it feels like I'm just treading water. I find myself asking "What am I doing? Why am I even doing it? Is it even fun anymore?" with alarming regularity.

Now, before I get too far down the rabbit hole, this is not my first time with hobby burnout and past experience should help in averting the worst of it. I've still got products that I care about (and some of it is, quite good I think.), but the pacing, for the time being, is due some shake up and some refocusing. Unicorn Meat will happen, I promise, and it's not like I'm going to run out of draft ideas any time soon.

When your brain tells you to slow down and take a break, take a break.


Sunday, August 22, 2021

Violence, That Art of Fools

A sword? What good is a sword? I cannot clean my gutters with a sword, I cannot clear my garden with a sword, I cannot replace the roof of my shed with a sword. It is a tool for making ghosts and of those I have plenty. Away with you, go bother some other fool.


This is an expansion of my Sword That Cuts Heaven class into a game-wide framework, with the intention of making combat a whole load of anime bullshit, without actually having to do any extra work.

It is absolutely untested. It is probably a terrible idea.


Principles of the Art of Fools

1) All PCs, regardless of their class or their weapon, deal damage in Hit Dice, rather than Hit Points.

2) Weak enemies do damage in HP. Strong enemies do damage in HD, as a PC would.

3) HD / HP values are not changed from default for either PCs or monsters

4) Strong enemies are Named. They have connections, and their death will change the greater world. (note: if it makes no sense for a Named enemy to deal major damage, they won't deal it but should be treated as Named in terms of world-importance) 

5) If the enemy can understand the scope of the PCs threat, they will engage only if truly fanatical, desperate, or exceptionally well-prepared.

6) Named Enemies, as well as PCs, can get one action before they die, should they be struck down.


As is no doubt obvious, PCs are ludicrously overpowered under this system. A level 1 they have good odds of instantly killing most of what they run into, but that's a two-way street. This is intentional, as a way of cutting down combat into only the important fights - that is, if you're going to be fighting someone, it's going to be an actual NPC.

The Art of Fools is not for games about dungeoncrawling, obviously. But it's compatible with pre-existing material and that's important.


The Questions of Combat

When someone dies practicing the Art of Fools, consider the following questions.

  • Who was hurt, what was damaged?
  • What happens to the corpse?
  • Who will hear of the death? When, how?
  • What are the closest connections of the deceased?
  • Are there any parties that will seek revenge for the violence?
  • What is the relationship between the law and the act?
  • What outside parties have a vested interest in the outcome of the violence?
  • Does the death leave a vacuum? What moves in to fill the place?

Spin out the consequences and bring them into play. Deaths should have cascading effects.


An Example

The players escape from the orc encampment after negotiations with Esnellir na-Drusi, Warchief devolved into violence. 


  • Esnellir na-Drusi, orc warchief
  • Turon Bull-Tusk, shoulderman
  • Ghent na-Chir, battle-wife
  • Six additional orc soldiers of the Black Eye band
  • Filonius Duld, wizard (PC)

The corpses of the orcs are recovered by the survivors of the band and cremated according to custom. The corpse of Filonius was going to be carried by another PC, but had to be dropped as part of the escape. It was fed to the warband's boars. His silks and rings were taken. His spellbook was burned, forming a fire gnotic at the site.

Word of the battle will spread to nearby warbands by runner. The Curled Tusks will learn by day's end, and the River's Hand and Boar's Wives by the end of the next day. On the PC's side, they will inform the commander of Yellow Hawk garrison when they return that evening, and to Rondarium by morning.

Esnellir and Ghent leave behind two other battle-wives, a battle-were, and three large adult sons (all should get names now). Turon has an apprentice (give a name) and a now-voided spirit marriage to Unsun the Three-Eyed Bear. Filonius has noble parents (estranged) and a younger brother (broke university student).

The survivors of the Black Eyes will declare weregilt against the party, calling in the above listed bands into the pursuit. They are likely to reach out to the garrison and other encampments with offers that, should you be handed over, they will remain willing to negotiate the border treaty. It is likely that the garrison will take this offer seriously, even if the provincial government does not. Filonius' family is unlikely to care that he is dead, save his brother, who lacks the funds to make an appropriate offering to the Furies. Usun the Three-Eyed Bear will absolutely hunt down the PCs if they should intrude in his territory.

Orc law has already been invoked. Under the law of the human polity the PCs are working for, there would be no penalty, unless the garrison commander would invoke a punishment under military law (as it was their actions that derailed negotiations). This would likely be lashes.

On the greater scale, reactions are mixed. Orcs in and outside of the military will consider the event yet another act of senseless violence carried out by the human polity's mercenary armies, lowering an already abysmal opinion. The majority support of finalizing a treaty will not change for this event, but if other such events were to happen in swift succession it might be undermined.

Human leaders will be split between the apathetic, the warhawks, and the "oh come on what the shit" party.

Both human and orc polities will benefit from a peaceful border treaty on paper, but this is always the kind of situation where parties will look at a proposal and go "but we could be getting more" The warhawks are taking advantage of the generally apathetic majority.

The leadership of the Black Eye band will fall to Esnellir and Ghent's surviving battle-wives and were. Turon's apprentice will be made shoulderman, but their lack of experience and rather distressing habits of torturing small animals in secret are not a combination for stability.

The PCs will need to find a replacement wizard soon, though there are few to be had this far from the provincial capital. They might have to settle for more obscure reinforcement.


While the larger situation hasn't budged, it's only because the PCs employers were able to write them off as violent idiot rogues and distance themselves from the event (they may or may not have intended it to go down this way, that is for further investigation Remaining Question: suss out whether or not the garrison leader is pro or anti-treaty).

The PC's though, the PC's are fucked. Best start thinking of creative ways to avoid getting tossed under that oncoming bus.


Even if mechanically it is a disaster, hopefully this provides a basis for "how to make combat interesting" in a only partially-mechanical way, and that can be refined in the future.

Saturday, August 14, 2021

Play Report: The Quiet Year

This post I pulled from the session notes of a game of The Quiet Year I ran sometime early last tyear - right before lockdown started, I believe. We just about got to the end of Summer, but never picked back up for a second session. The screenshot we took of the map is likely lost, and the notes weren't edited or touched up from when I wrote them. As it's been over a year and a half since I ran / played in this, my memories of it are a bit foggy. But, it was quite a bit of fun and a nice change of pace, I'd certainly recommend it to people who want an easy game night or two or something different.

A Quiet Year in the Worst Year

Players: Dan, Tal, Abe, Mike

Terrain: Giant mushroom swamp

  • Big rusting metal factory-skeleton
  • Giant tar pits
  • Swamp strider breeding grounds (sacks on the underside of mushrooms)
  • half-sunken stone statue (huge)


  • Fresh water - Abundant (water filter)
  • Snowbank stem spore (religious / medicinal) - Scarcity
  • Tar-oil (refined) fuel (religious / energy) - Scarcity
  • Protection - Abundant (striders)
  • Crops - Abundant (floating farms)
  • Trade goods - Abundant (Nomads)
  • Medicine - Abundance
  • Population - Stable
  • Working computer
  • Tar Altar
  • Tamed Swamp Striders

A stilt village, belching thick black smoke.

Religious significance to the gathering groups?


  1. Scouts found a computer in the wreckage of the factory. They haul it home, start a project to get old computer running via a nonsense diesel-generator (6)

  2. An ancient man-made structure - a sports stadium, which was abandoned a long time ago after a brief time for pit fights. A discussion is held about migrating to the stadium on dry land, better protection - only the old really remember it now. Young vs old discussion, factions begin to form.

  3. A new person emerges: someone emerges from the depths of the factory, mad old, possibly a worker or resident. Folks are unsure if he is friendly, but he has technical know-how (gets computer up and running). Stadium guys like him, elders are slower to trust. Start project to cultivate swampland for crops (aztec floating crops 6)

  4. Young woman introduces a scheme to found the tar cult and project to build altar (3). Elsewhere, folks decide to start taming the swamp striders (6)

  5. Old Factory Man confesses that he helped the old warlords maintain and run the blood sports in the stadium. The elders can't overcome their memories of the Fall, and the community is split (project: youth faction moves to stadium)

  6. There are predators here: crocodiles with a boarlike build, very smart, we are not safe. Discussion is held: do we want to split projects between factions? Compy (Y) Crops (E) Altar (Y) Striders (?) Move (Y)

  7. Normally it is the elders who have the greater social sway leading their people in fungal religious ceremonies (enter + age & shroom vision quest), but the youth/stadium faction is led by the tar dippers and their new cult (work as a tar-dipper / tar baptism). A new sickness has emerged, and it's putting people out of commission. Not deadly, but the mushrooms do nothing.

  8. The oldest members of the community are ungodly old - they need the shrooms to stay alive, though they don't get youth. Oldest is 150- 200+. Cordyceps mummies. Some of them just couldn't migrate, and refused to move. Some have grown in place. Q: Who is really in power? The altar, the computer, and the sickness precipitate the move. This is the split. The Elders have lost almost all of their support. They will remain in the stilt village with some of the harvesters. The Move is underway!

  9. We have moved to the stadium! We moved our food supply there, but there are swamp rats everywhere. Begin Event: sacrifice to the tar god to solidify the food supplies.

  10. An omen appears! It's a bad one - the sickness hasn't let up, and those who went to visit the elders were given a vision of the stadium filled with corpses. Discovery: The statue is a machine, and it's possible to get inside.

  11. Old Factory Man is telling all sorts of crazy tales about a curse on those who go inside the statue/Titan, painful death, all bad things, and fools are always going inside looking for treasure. Only one emerged, a warlord who ran the bloodsports. Went in a good man, came out changed. Project: The Young Woman begins formalizing the tar cult - the dreaming tar god and its other aspects, commission a work, assigning societal roles (More tar = more blessed, work is less meaningful in status)(6)

  12. The champion of a week-long tourney is a sacrifice - fight to become the sacrifice. Contests of strength. Actually helps stabilize and maintain the peace. It's a safety valve on violence. Discovery: The arrival of a prophet with more tar than all others - preaches long submersion with the tar god.

  13. The most beautiful thing is a species of fungus that tethers itself with a stalk and rises up like a huge, multicolored balloon. Project: Setting up a rain collection and filtration system (3)


  1. The sickness suddenly gets really bad - the first person has died of the cough, drowned on their own mucus. Is it connected to the tar? Our own version of black lung? Discovery: A nomad band has set up camp nearby.

  2. The unbaptised rice farmers burnt the food stored in the stadium as protest against their treatment, so they now have control over the entire food supply. They begin a project: start food cartel (2)

  3. An abundance! Trade goods from the nomads! Project: Explore the factory, lead by the Old Factory man (1)

  4. Project: A band of strider-riders is trained as a militia (4) Discovery: Bright lights seen within factory Rice farmers now have the Computer and their cartel. Factory expedition returns.

  5. The eldest among us is very ill from swamplung, we need to find a cure. Project: Distill medicine from the striders, as the riders have been immune (2)

  6. A project finishes early! A breakthrough with the strider medicine, thanks to the wisdom of the old elders. Discovery: The prophet have recruited some farmers kicked out of cartel and is going into the Titan. The Tar Cult is formalized.

  7. A scarcity! The tar is running out! Question: How does the lowering tar affect society? People revert to shrooms, people blame the prophet, rationing and control by the Young Woman and the cartel, apostasy, cutting down on usage as fuel and fire, hoarded by the cult lodge. Ceremonies, once bright and fiery, are now cold and dark.

  8. Project: Secret apostates and the Cartel are working on a Code of Laws (6) Discovery: the rice farmers who went in with the prophet have returned, dead. The prophet is nowhere to be found. Bodies are filled with tar.

  9. A foolish project begins: frustrated farmers left out of the cult and cartel want to try and stage a coup (2). Project: Big symbolic wedding plans between major families of the swampfolks and nomads to help with population (1). The militia is complete.

  10. Summer is fleeting. Discovery: Prophet in a blob of tar emerges from Titan with message, speaks of the old law that those who emerge have gained Kingship. Old man will support this. Discovery: A tunnel to what is below the factory has been revealed. Wedding has gone off without a hitch.

  11. Outsiders arrive, colonists from a far-off land who believe in love, pleasure and fertility. Carnival / circus vibe. They are received with open arms et al. About 40 of them arrive. Project: The apostates gear up for an expedition to the Titan (1).


I should run this again some time, do a full game of it.