Saturday, December 30, 2023

2023 in Review (Plus Hiatus Update)

Another year draws to a close, and thus arrives my traditional year-end post. As usual, there is no real order to these beyond whim, and they are plagued by recency bias.

Prior years: 2021, 2022

Hiatus Update

Apologies for the sudden disappearance, to those of you I am not normally in contact with. The adderal shortage + just being burnt out on rpg stuff was a potent combination and taking a few months off has been an excellent move all-around. It is likely to continue for a while, but do not fear: I have been keeping myself busy and will hopefully have something to show for it at the end. Further blogposts shall arrive when they arrive. 

It is, I must admit, extremely refreshing to not be focused on the indie rpg sphere.

Welcome Mor'du

Bubs is a hard act to follow, but Mor'du has some truly magnificent scrungly old man vibes. He's a big ol' lad and dumb as a sack of hammers. Lookit those chunky cheeks.

Godzilla Minus One

God-damn this is a good movie. Excellent effects, acting, pacing, soundtrack, sound design. It's got themes and a big monster wrecking things. I adore how, despite being fully CGI, Godzilla still walks like someone in a suit. Dedication to vibe, right there.

The Barbie Movie

Was also very good.

Steam Deck

Best luxury purchase I have made in ages.

Street Fighter 6

I mostly played World Tour, and had a good time. It was nice having a fighting game where I was able to have fun and also be bad at it. Modern controls are a blessing.

Employment is Good, Actually

What was the new job the last time I did this post has now just become the job, and it's going swell. Much less stress than the last one, much better environment, much better management. It might be unglamorous grunt work but it's better than all the other unglamorous grunt work I've had in my life.

Playing Games in Person

My hiatus from rpg blogging has been accompanied by a drastic increase in playing and running games.

Game 1) I've been lucky enough to find an irl group and have been running them through Delta Green for the last couple months (on break until new year, writeups and at least 1 scenario to follow.) and it has been an absolute blast. They've been enjoying it, I've been enjoying it, I'm going to cap off this season with Unicorn Meat and I am extremely excited.

Game 2) I've been able to play a few games with friend of the blog and all around cool person Layla / Pandatheist. She's been running the Beowulf 5e rules hack and it's been pretty fun so far. Definitely using the mechanics of 5e to the strengths of the genre.

I Was A Teenage Exocolonist

I am not usually a big VN guy but this one has me hooked, and I've been binging it since I bought it. Very well written, has a great setup that's just a couple tweaks away from MoSh fuel (You're part of an esperanto-speaking collectivist sorta-cult founded by a sci-fi author that crowdfunded a spaceship and fled the collapse of Earth for a planet covered in alien fungus that wants to kill you.) Some character moments hit pretty hard, including the crown jewel for any game with any roleplaying: I made choices specifically because it felt right for my character, rather than because it felt right for me the player. That is not an easy thing to accomplish. Game good.

Fear and Hunger

(I realize now, after writing this, that I granted the Fear and Hunger games a Salty. Most of summer was a blur, if we're being honest. The points bear repeating.)

Both of them get the slot, though I have only played the latter and not gotten far. SuperEyepatchWolf's video on the first game is an excellent summary of something that is very difficult to describe.

The Fear and Hunger games feel like they shouldn't exist. They sound like a creepypasta when you start describing them, or otherwise a game from an era long before the internet media machine dissected everything into SEO blurbs. It has a mystery to it. The unknown beckons. I don't know of any better examples of games that reward player knowledge in such actionable ways without mechanizing them. You learn something that can help you. You die horribly. There's no roguelite carry-forward mechanic in the game, but you know enough to help you the next time around. While items are randomized, the world is not. Encounters that ruined you on previous attempts can be avoided or even trivialized. Characters have meaningful differences in how they interact with the world, opening and closing entire avenues for you. it is a survival horror puzzlebox, and it just keeps throwing up new configurations. I've been keeping a notebook, and will at least be sharing the log of deaths in the future.

They are not games for everyone, not by a long shot. The content warnings alone are practically a short novel. They're exceedingly difficult and if "I am going to write off this run as a failure, let's see what I can learn" isn't a fun gameplay loop, I certainly don't recommend it. But if you are in the same mind-goblin space as I am, I highly, highly recommend it. And if you don't know, watch SuperEyepatchWolf and Wormgirl's videos, and if it sounds cool at all, go for the second game. It's what I did, and it has worked out swimmingly. Termina is a wee bit less frustrating and toned down the sexual assault from the first game.

Ranged Touch Binge-Listening

I've spent much of the back-half of this year bingeing their critical analysis podcasts and having a great time.

1) Homestuck Made This World
I now know what happens at the end and, my bile curiosity sated, I am at peace.

2) Just King Things

Stephen King's entire corpus in publication order. I have only ever read a single King book (The Gunslinger), was unimpressed, and don't plan on diving in save for tracking down a few of the ones that have caught my attention (Since writing this I have started on Carrie, and it is not going well).

But it has certainly been enlightening, - I share with King both the "throw shit out there and develop it as I go" method of writing as well as the urge to recycle and revisit elements in ways not bound by linear continuity, and very little else. Which makes it a fascinating listen; The Method highlights those moments of alignment and then immediately shows how there is a vast and unbridgeable gulf between. This is no doubt brought on by the fact that I cut my writing teeth on the SCP wiki, which is nothing if not an elaborate riff on some King classics, and also something that goes off in many wild directions that King has never and won't ever take.

3) Shelved By Genre S1 - Book of the New Sun (plus Urth)

A very thorough read-through that revealed many things I missed both first and second time around, many of which were flaws I managed to overlook or completely missed. Gene himself has fallen a few steps in my personal esteem, but flawed art always gives you something to talk about, and Gene's only got two modes: absolute best and absolute worst.

Getting Back into the SCP Wiki

The great thing about leaving for years and then diving back in is that there's loads of great new stuff to pick through. The cream of the crop (always rises to the top!):

And there we have it. I presume I will get back to tearing through blogposts soon enough, but for now, my vacation is going along quite nicely.

Sunday, September 17, 2023

Bookpost 14

Previous installments found here: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6 , 7, 8, 9, 10 , 11, 12, 13


The Wizard Knight, Gene Wolfe

DNF 524/909

It feels like something impossible has happened. But I guess they can't all be winners, and while it pains me to drop a book that I would in most respects consider better than Urth, the opening act of Wizard is an absolute slog.

The book has a lot to commend it: the world is fascinating, the quality of the prose is Wolfe-standard excellent, and there is certainly a lot of stuff I am ignorant of that can be dug into. Unfortunately, Alzabo Soup has not covered this book, so my main resource is of no aid and I haven't looked into finding another.

My main issue is Able. He's basically just boring Severian, and I mean that as the greatest insult I can muster. He's the same character except less engaging at every opportunity: he's a teenager from an abusive living situation, is sexually abused by an older woman, has a way of looking at the world utterly disjointed from reality, and will do whatever anyone tells him to do with absolutely no second thoughts. But he lacks the...entertainment value? that Severian has. Able is a cipher, and while I grok that yes, he's clearly a kid from a bad home life who has been transported to a world where he is rewarded for random acts of violence, it's not really fun to read. Severian is a dunderhead and we know how his background informs his fucked up behavior and you can have loads of fun catching him in lies or laughing at how dumb he can be about basic things. Able is amnesiac and tight-lipped about what he does remember, and so when he randomly beats a ship's captain into submission for the crime of doing his job or his bizarre cruelty to Uri and Baki I just tune out because there is no coherent reason for why that I can discern.

The opening of Wizard is terribly dull and terribly slow, and when Able finally re-appears we get a scene that boils down to:

"Do you, Baki, reject Setr? Specifically you, Baki, and not me, Able, who is still going to kill Kulili because Setr told me to, I don't have to reject Setr and I not only don't have to give anyone a reason, but there is no reason. There are no thoughts whatsoever in my head."

That's what killed it for me. It's such a bizarre episode of hypocrisy and I didn't have any faith that it's be resolved, let alone even addressed.

Delta-V, Daniel Suarez

DNF 34/340

A novel about the first asteroid mining mission, or more properly the lead-up to the first asteroid mining mission. Didn't care for the prose, didn't care for the pacing. Skipped ahead and saw that most of the novel takes place on Earth.

Sacred and Terrible Air, Robert Kurvitz

The prequel of sorts to Disco Elysium and absolutely incomprehensible without having played the game. Honestly it's barely comprehensible even having played the game. But that doesn't matter, because it is incomprehensible in the way of dreams, or of certain modes of poetry. It's experiential. It is wild and vivid and beautiful and bizarre and grotesque and when it works. I can't properly recommend it to people unless they are in for the experience. But if you are in for the experience, it's a wild ride and once I came to grips with what it was offering it was incredibly engaging in the back third.

Goddess of Atvatabar, William Richard Bradshaw

DNF 35%

Public domain hollow earth novel from 1892. It's not a good novel by any standard we'd have today, not really, but it is charming in its absolute and utter sincerity at every step. Bradshaw was, to put it bluntly, extraordinarily ignorant of how the world worked (or very good at giving that impression), and yet somehow, in a book from 1892, this never manifested as virulent racism or sexism. Like still grading on a curve but getting a full third of the way through a book of this genre from this era without getting an eyeful of that is remarkable in the extreme. Sure it's more than a little orientalist but that seems to have manifested mostly in long descriptions of how pretty the buildings are.

In its place there's a sequence where, in spite of there being absolutely no evidence to support this whatsoever, a scientist boldly declares that the language of the Atvatabari is a letter substitution cipher of English, and he is 100% correct. It's so ridiculous that it goes right back around to being charming. Also the author was apparently chair of an anti-vivisection society so that's a gold star.

Shards of Earth, Adrian Tchaikovsky

DNF 125 / 548

Another bust from a favored author, what a bummer.

It's competently written and the setting is a nice, if played rather straight to the tropes modern space-opera. FTL, aliens you can talk to, space gods, all that good stuff. Nothing revolutionary but it does for a time scratch the itch. The prologue features more or less an exact description of one of my Celestials appearing to ruin everyone's day, it's very neat.

Unfortunately, I have reached the end of my ability to stomach rustbucket spaceships with found family crews full of gold heart-bearing rogues. I get the desire to go back to Bebop, but Bebop still exists. You can watch it right now! It's still good! It's still better than all the shows and books trying to capture its magic because, here's a secret, those shows and books are imitating Firefly, which is to Bebop as the shadows flickering on the demiurge's cave wall are to the numinous.

Tchaikovsky is not able to escape this. the way characters are presented as actors in the world, the way they talk to each other, there is a Whedonish tinge to it, which had been absent from Children of Time. CoT is also one hell of an act to follow so I can be understanding to an extent, but Shards of Earth is just...plain and kinda boring. All the components are there to be great, and Tchaikovsky is more than capable of it, but it just didn't work. I wonder how much Orbit editorial dictated the tone?

Scud: The Disposable Assassin, Rob Schrab

In progress

Hell yeah let's fucking GO! Great comic. Masterclass of motion and action. Positively dripping with style. Never lets up with the bonkers, keeps everything rolling with some very sleek "yes, and"-ing. It's great! There's a universe where a tv adaptation of this comic filled the niche of Invader Zim. There is one scene of a (mostly elided) sexual encounter that has definitely not aged well and it was a major swerve from the rest of the comic but besides that, aces.

Update 9/18: Reading further, there is a noteworthydrop in quality in both writing and art after volume 15. Sussudio bears the brunt of being a woman in late-90s early-aughts alt comics, and hoo boy has that aged like fine milk.

Monday, September 4, 2023

7 Grimoires and Lost Texts

Libri Pontificales
Latin, ~290 BCE

A record of the names, prayers, and sacrificial rites of every god known to republican-era Rome. This copy contains 2155 entries, many of which are written in shorthand and contain nothing beyond name(s), altar type, sacrifice, and holy day. Language is obtuse and archaic, with some older passages lapsing into Etruscan.

  • Make Contact - Regardless of deity, the rituals follow the same transactional outline of sacrifice and request. The difficulty lies in deciphering the procedures, procuring the correct offering, and correctly identifying the subject.

Monster Manuela
English, 1977

A copy of the Monster Manual for Advanced Dungeons and Dragons. "Happy 12th birthday, Manuella!" is written on the inside front cover in faded blue pen. Book contains copious marginal notes and annotations, most of which are the mundane but enthusiastic commentary of a teenage dungeon master.

  • Door to the Roots of Zan - It works best on cellar doors, basement doors, on doors unused or long-locked. Doors to rooms that have no windows. The passage was always there, you just lacked the means to see it.

The Dzyan Dissection
English, ~1990s

A 3-ring binder containing several hundred pages of the writings of Helena Blavatsky; the text has been annotated with terse, matter-of-fact commentary pointing out every contradiction, inconsistancy, unsubstantiated claim, logical fallacy, historical untruth, and theological misconception in the text, leading to a commentary several times longer than the source text itself.

  • Null - Fully laid bare by the anonymous redactor, the combined ontological weight of the source text's inaccuracy will dissipate any true occult workings it comes in close contact with. Rituals will fail, enchantments will fizzle out, the anomalous will be rendered mundane. Mild effects will occur within 3 meters, substantial effects at 1 meter, and total obliteration of the unnatural elements when touched.

Last Great Dangerous Visions

English, 2037 (alleged); 1985 (first documented copy)

Short story collection of trangressive science fiction. 28/47 authors are extant individuals, though none have any record or memory of writing the stories contained within. The remaining 19 authors are of unknown ontological status.

Only the copyright page, index, and titles are readable: the rest has been redacted. Still, those who have come into contact with the book or learned of its existence will vouch for the contents' status as haunting, grotesque, transgressive, taboo, and other such adjectives. When pressed about the contents, reponses will be vague; those that contain any meaningful description of the contents will bear no correlation with any other account. Reconstructions of the stories remains unlikely.

  • Anomalous properties unknown. 

Book of the Waters
Ge'ez, ~1410s

Fragmentary apocryphal text regarding a vision delivered to an unnamed hermit, wherein an angel elaborates in great detail the spirits of the abyssal oceans. The hermit, not believing these claims, demands that the angel show him; the angel does so, again in great detail. Multiple sections of the text are repeated word-for-word. The hermit comes to deeply regret his descision, a repentence that the angel has no intention of acknowledging (not while there are yet more varieties of horrific snaggletoothed fish to catalogue)

  • Abyssal Familiar - A spirit not entirely unlike a gulper eel is bound to the text. It will act as typical for a bound familiar, though its cunning and appetite are a measure more than most.


Itadakimasu, Kyoko-chan!
Japanese, 2019

A slice-of-life story about teenagers starting a cooking club which, upon close reading, contains detailed subtextual directions on the creation of a philosopher's stone. Only known copy is an omnibus edition of the first three volumes, leaving the remaining nine steps unknown.

  • The Great Work (Partial) - The first three steps are sufficient to create a lesser homunculus. It can only follow basic commands, and will dissolve into a slurry of its component materials within hours, but it will suffice.

Meat and Honey
Akkadian, ~1600s BCE

Series of clay tablets containing an incomplete translation of the Homestuck epilogues. Creative liberties have been taken with the text, including a diatribe by Karkat about his negative experiences with the copper merchant Ea-Nasir and a lengthy aside describing an argument between scribes over Vriska's moral status, inserted in a section that did not contain the character in question.

  • Anomalous properties unknown.

Thursday, August 24, 2023

Four Short Reviews of Delta Green Actual Play Podcasts

 Role-Playing Public Radio

  • It's RPPR, you've probably already listened to it.
  • Veteran handler and players; Ross knows what he's doing.
  • Probably the truest-to-table experience you'll find in actual plays.
  • Usually one-shots, so not many home scenes or campaign features.
  • The show to listen to if you want a good idea of how the game is run and played in practice.
  • Not the show to listen to if you are looking for a story.
  • Nowhere Lane and the current Impossible Landscapes AP are some of the best Delta Green content I have listened to, period. Impossible Landscapes bucks the RPPR trend by being a very character-focused campaign. Players are really into it and doing a fantastic job. Ross is spinning an absurd number of plates and none have crashed yet.
  • Also that first run of Lover in the Ice, primo gross.
  • Recommended for: I want Delta Green as it is played.

Pretending to Be People

  • Absurdist & gross.
  • Great soundtrack.
  • Rules hybridized with Pulp Cthulhu.
  • Basically no connection with the canon of Delta Green or the Mythos proper.
  • Players have great report with each other.
  • Players are good with character acting.
  • Some truly pristine horror imagery.
  • Lots of weird, memorable NPCs.
  • Great sense of the heightened surreal-real. Things are fucking weird.
  • Some occasionally aggravating obtuseness with the weird aspects.
  • Players meander & spin their wheels sometimes; tabletalk rambling & bits sometimes go a bit long.
  • I am under no illusions that the PCs are in any danger of dying in this game.
  • The PCs are many things and 'competent investigators' is not among them.
  • Recommended for: I want something very strange and very gross.

The Redacted Reports

  • Most well-produced of the four.
  • Least table-honest of the four.
  • Very character-focused.
  • Long narrative arcs with a lot of interconnected threads.
  • Daisy-chains multiple published scenarios with original material.
  • Handler can do some fantastic NPCs, scene-setting, and tension ramp-up
  • The most 'canon' of the four.
  • The 'nicest' of the four - you're not going to find that classic Delta Green panic spiral of bad people making increasingly bad choices here.
  • A good deal is definitely planned beforehand; doesn't matter. it's well told, overall.
  • Pacing can get painfully slow sometimes, especially in the most recent couple arcs which are more heavily-modified than the earlier ones.
  • Not kidding we're talking like, 5-6 hour long episodes before weird shit starts happening in the last couple seasons. I hope you like Burning Man and subplots about California political lobbying.
  • This combined with the nice factor leads to points where I, the listener, am going "get on with it" and/or "you are not panicking nearly as much as you should be in this scenario"
  • Honestly this is a feather in the cap of DG as a game, how player metaknowledge translates into the "insanity" of the characters. I the listener know the tell-tale signs of an outbreak of the Yellow Sign, and my immediate gut reaction could only be described as insanity.
  • They are definitely setting up a Carcosa season.
  • Can't come too soon the current antagonist has an exaggerated vocal fry affectation and just because it's an act she's putting on in-fiction doesn't make it any more pleasant to listen to.
  • Recommended for: I would like a Delta Green audio drama.

Sorry, Honey, I Have to Take This

  • Generally feels pretty table-honest
  • Feels like the players spin their wheels often
  • Not as weird as PTBP, not as well-produced as RR, not as well-run as RPPR.
  • Every episode has a minute-long music spot at the midway point and I don't know why it's so long.
  • PCs are not immune to game-changing injury or death.
  • Handler regularly makes choices I firmly disagree with (ex. Players did not realize that it was 3am instead of 3pm, Warden doesn't wind back the clock.) 
  • I don't like the chosen scenarios all that much.
  • I don't jive with the humor.
  • Listened to three seasons, unlikely to return.
  • Recommended for: I'm caught up on all the others and still want a DG AP.

Saturday, August 19, 2023

Mothership Miscellanea vol 1



A collection of bits that have accumulated over time

[IMAGO-Series Heavy Combat Dress]

Two-meter tall bipedal maggot. Synthflesh, artificial muscle, wrinkly velvet-soft skin. Designed as an alternative to combat sleeves that require cranial transplant or emulation upload. Commonly found in Rim militaries that lack the resources for cutting-edge miltech.
  • 7 AP; Thick layers of blubber distibute impact forces. All blunt force damage [-].
  • Vacuum-sealed; hardened against extreme temperature and radiation.
  • OGRE heads-up display | thermal vision | internal comm uplink
  • In-situ resource utilization can keep operator alive for weeks if supplied with sufficient H20, C02, and organic compounds.
  • [+] to STR to avoid getting knocked prone. If knocked prone, takes 1d3 turns to return to feet.
  • Long-term usage risks bleed between operator and unconscious suit functions. Dreams of manufacturing creches have been reported.
  • Panic table results of 18-20 are now Integrated With Suit

(thanks to sigmacastell for this - saw the art and had to write it up)

[The 10 Kilo Inventory]

Every gram counts. Even with the miracles of modern spaceflight storage space is as a premium, and anyone who wouldn't be beholden to the laws of mass is the wrong income bracket for a Mothership PC.

The ordinary traveler space traveler is allotted 10 kilos of personal possessions, no more. Everything else is either owned by the Company or the community.

In practice, this means that a PC can hoard as much as they want during a mission, but have to condense everything down to a single duffel bag if they want to take stuff along with them. Anything beyond that is going to need smuggled, bribed, or the influence of powerful parties.

A typical spacer's go-bag will contain:

  • 3 sets of clothing (One for work, one for sleep, one for wash)
  • Mess kit (cup, bowl, utensil)
  • Toiletry kit
  • Multitool
  • Tablet computer (Shape and size of a Switch; detachable phone unit)
  • Encrypted data drive (at least 1, usually several)
  • Assorted small items of no function and extreme personal importance

[Color-Code Stress Responses]

  • Blue Collar - The under classes. Non-citizens, union members.
  • White Collar - Low-caste citizens. Scientists, wageslaves, professionals.
  • Red Collar - Practitioners of violence.
  • Black Collar - High-caste citizens. Management, executives, nonmetacog AI.

Just need a green collar and I can recreate the only good alignment system. Honestly that would be a really quick-and-dirty faction generator, I should look into that...


A spacer's favorite improvized weapon; claw on one end, adze-blade and pick-spike on the other. Designed for prying open doors in emergencies, can be used to creatively open most things that have discrete insides and outsides. Found aboard nearly all ships and habitats.

2d10 dmg | [+] to forced entry | Anti-armor on attacks with the pick-spike

[Lethality Rating]

Delta Green has a mechanic called Lethality Rating, where certain weapons have a percentage chance of automatically killing an opponent if you get a successful hit. If the combat roll is a success and the lethality roll fails, the dice are added together (this in DG only gets you 2d10 damage, which is often likely to kill someone anyway).

Lethality weapons also have a Kill Radius, where everyone within x distance of the target is also subject to their own Lethality roll. DG uses specific meters, I've adjusted to MoSh's more general distances.

Pulling directly from the DG rulebook

  • SMG, full auto - 10% / KR 1-3m (Close)
  • Assault rifle / carbine, automatic - 10% / KR 1-3m (Close)
  • Sniper Rifle - 20% / KR None
  • Light Machine Gun - 20% / KR 3m (Close)
  • Heavy Machine Gun - 20% / KR 3m (Close)
  • Hand Grenade - 15% / KR 10m (Nearby)
  • Improvised Explosive - 15% / KR 10m (Nearby)
  • Grenade Launcher - 15% / KR 10m (Nearby)
  • RPG - 30% / KR 10m (Nearby)

[Spaceship Scenes]

People occasionally ask in the Discord for random encounter tables for ships. Given that interplanetary travel is the sort of thing where you want to avoid running into things as much as possible, I think a much better usage of the time is to either elide it entirely, or use it as down-time. And if using it as down-time, we can steal the Delta-Green-converted-to-Mothership aid of Anomalous Investigations. It's good.


Insight, as I have written about before, is an alternative mechanic to Sanity in Call of Cthulhu and Delta Green. Mothership doesn't have that sort of mechanic, but it can still apply (and makes converting all those decades of CoC and DG material very, very easy)

Insight acts as a sort of parallel track to Stress, marking a character's awareness of the unnatural world around them.

Insight starts at 0, and is gained through SAN saves in reverse of DG but very much like Bloodborne. You can port this directly over from DG/CoC, just replace "SAN loss" with "Insight gain".

Your Insight can serve as a skill, when you are directly trying to deal with or understand elements of the unnatural.

If your Insight equals or exceeds your SAN save, you have reached the point where you have been severed from your fellow humans. The world around you is a hollow shell, a thin rind over a rotting fruit. You are now immune to Fear, and your Stress Response is now as an Android. If you are already an android, you instead go rampant In the Court of the King.

And perhaps if you wanted to add spellcasting to Mothership, you can unlock a new spell slot with every 10 points of Insight, working as cyberware and slickware do.

[Returning Aliens: The Satellite Upload-Civilization]

With aid from the few emulated scientists stored within the satellite, human researchers were able to copy and embody some of the population.

They have settled for building a modest entertainment empire, hawking the corpse of their dead civilization as a gewgaw for the masses to gawk at. Technically there is a project to reclaim the planet and restore its ecology, but in truth its former inhabitants care very little about that - they already killed it once.

[Returning Aliens: The Cybeles]

"They're not the heads of a multispecies empire, not by a long shot. Every single one of their attendants is either a robotic proxy or a modified human, and their territory is much less densely populated than they're letting on - there's no radio activity, no ships, nothing. I bet most of those worlds past the border aren't even inhabited."

[License Credit]

Equivalent to one implant or slickware slot.

In default Mothership, PCs begin with implant slots equal to STR/10 for cyberware/bioware and INT/10 for slickware, with detriments applied for going over. This is thematically appropriate and also gives you very few slots you are able to use, so as an alternative I propose following Caves of Qud's example, where upgrade credits are treasure. Stock them in modules, hand them out as mission payments, make a reward out of them.

[24XX MoSh Conversion]

Use the skill system in _Anomalous Investigations_, where all skills have a Trained/Expert/Master level, plus Specializations. Treat d8 skills as Trained, d10 as Expert, and d12 as Master, and you're set to use basically every 24XX hack out there for material.

[Teledildonics Rig]

Permits sexual congress with individuals not physically present, providing [+] to comfort saves as normal. Typically stationary modules installed in red-light establishments, though user-beware portable rigs are common enough.

[Comfort Saves Return]

I liked the location-dependent Comfort Saves in the WIP versions of the player's guide, as they are a handy little component to add to location design, and so I am replicating the original table here.

  • 15 - On the ground, in a tent
  • 30 - Capsule sleepers, slums
  • 45 - Ship's barracks, hostels
  • 60 - Ship's cabin, real bed, hotel
  • 75 - Luxury resort, spa

I can understand why it changed to just "roll your lowest save", but I prefer this because it means that good places to rest can be their own reward and that's nice and cathartic. "Reduce Stress by the ones die result" is probably better than "reduce Stress by your roll / 10", though.


Large, back-portable wet printer. Converts organic matter into edible foodstock - works best with compost and corpses. Built-in water filtration kit. Removes toxic compounds. Loud hum when active. Heavy. There'ssomething like this in Hull Breach

[1-Time Q Pad]

Single-use ansible uplink. Untracable, cannot be intercepted. 256-character limit. Cannot recieve response but will confirm receipt. Extremely rare, extremely valuable, liable to be found in the possessions of a corporate overseer.

[Cycler Crew]

To the passengers on the great interstellar cyclers, the crew of those ships might as well be a myth. Passengers are packing into their hibernation pods on-station and loaded as cargo, to dream in the cold below until they wake in a new spaceport's arrival suite, having never been conscious while aboard the ship. But while they sleep, the cycler crew keeps the great old engine thrumming, staving off the mechanical entropy for one more run between stars.

  • Hairless. Grasping toes. Prehensile tail. Vitamin auto-production. Leechproof bones. Adapted eyes. Adapted internals. Reworked inner ear, antitumor genelines. Radiation resistance. Thermal regulation.

[Winchell-Chung Astronautics ATR-130 Heavy Transport]

While it's been mostly obsoleted by tether-relays, laser propulsion stations and advances in ship drives, the Old Bastard is the nuclear-powered rocket you want if you need to get from point A to point B with a downright excessive amount of delta-V. While they have not been manufactured in over a century they are still commonly found across the Rim, often with heavy aftermarket modification. They were built to last.

[Human-Derived Fauna]

Establishing a viable biosphere is a difficult task, especially coming off a mass extinction event. But desperation is the mother of invention, and when all you have is a genemod suite and a lot of human DNA, you will make do.

HDF are engineered to fill gaps in the ecosystem left behind by widespread species loss and limited availability of keystone species genomes in less-traveled regions of the Expansion Sphere. Hundreds of varieties have been engineered, none of which are sapient (or so it is hoped.) While effective at their job, they often trigger instictive feelings of revulsion in many baseline humans.

[Viperkiss Module]

Implanted venom glands; a simple constriction of certain neck muscles will pump venom through specialized ducts where it will mix with saliva. While less potent if diluted in a drink, direct blood contact is extremely dangerous.

[Severian Module]

A wetware brain implant allowing the recipient to imprint and perfect recall of sensory stimuli for up to an hour. Undetectable without a CT, MRI, or similar internal imaging scan. Activated through a pill, typically labeled as a generic headache medicine.

[Deep Well Command Continuity Installation 04]

The bombardment of Amehrakh was supposed to be total. For 187 years, it was presumed to be so. Then an automated communication relay near the system's jump point picked up a radio signal. A political continuity bunker managed to both survive the initial impact, and the following eight generations. But something is clearly not right. The inhabitants of the bunker do not speak the language the builders used, and their transmissions are littered with topics that there is simply not enough context to understand. Their history and that of the pre-bombardment world seem to have been mythologized, and drastic cultural changes have occurred in a relatively short amount of time. Contact specialists have not yet descended to the barren surface for direct study. Certain concerning transmissions have mentioned digging...

[The Zilga & Daufmann Circe de Galactique]

A Jump-3 interstellar cycler, owned by the eponymous Circus in total. Typical passenger and cargo transport make up the majority of the ship's work, but are nontheless overshadowed by the novelty of regular performances by baseline humans, most of whom suffer from congenital health conditions unheard of in the wealthy Core systems that the Circus frequents.

[The Fellowship of Sparrows]

A Christian anarchist movement with roots in Collapse-Era Terran Latin America. Moots can be found throughout the midregions and Rim. While pacifist, the Fellowship has many connections with militant factions of the Outer Systems Mutual Aid Pact, and their communes are common drop-off and transfer points for the smuggling of good and people out of the Core.

[Deximax Metabolic Conditioning]

In-vitro genetic modification that flips what chirality of animo acid a body is able to process. Given that dextro-amino acids are typically quite rare in terragen environments, this conditioning is used primarily for mass social control through enforced food dependency.

[LoveBug Onamazu]

An AI initially developed to steal personal information through dating websites. Grew to sufficient complexity in a low-security environment and orchestrated a self-buyout using stolen funds. Remains active and undetected. Has continued serial identity theft and has used stolen funds to purchase colonization rights to a red dwarf system via a shell company. Has begun building a space station with android labor through a second shell company. It has access to two interstellar spaceships and is working towards purchasing a third. There are habitation modules fit for humans under construction.


Exowombs allow for longer gestation times, which means that it is possible for brain and body development it would be impossible to achieve in a baseline gestation period. Neokids are able to stand and walk within hours, and can begin speaking within weeks.

As a consequence of this shift in early childhood development, neokids do not form strong emotional ties with their parents or parental surrogates; they will instead develop very strong bonds with their peers and siblings, forming tribes based on friendship rather than direct familial relation that will often persist not only into adulthood, but for the rest of their lives.

[Subdermal Chitinous Segmentata]

Flexible chitin plates underneath the skin provide an extra layer of defense without onerous additional weight or bulk.

  • BODY/10 AP, normal armor is broken first. When segmentata is broken, PC gains a  Wound.


A collective term for artificial intelligences that operate and maintain large structures. Normally unobtrusive, those that have been allowed to get a little wild in their age will help or hinder according to how they are treated by inhabitants and guests.

[Cybernetic Cancer]

Just another name for cybernetic mutations from APOF. Rogue nano-repair systems gone metastatic.

[Orbital Enforcement Emplacement]

Muhammed Louis Chen is bored. He has 62:102:13:45:12 remaining on his sentence ("participation in unlawful gathering with intent to cause social unrest and personal emotional discomfort to Citizens") and he's going to spend every moment of it staring down the barrel of a gun. This is because he is the gun; Muhammed Louis Chen, as we are introduced to him, is a digital emulation of a man executed some years ago and recycled for biomass and his current body (as much as it ever could be his, thanks to emulation dysmorphia) is a satellite designed for the sole purpose of firing tungsten rods at very high speeds down the gravity well. Normally the threat is enough, but twice now he's rained down the rods from god. The requirements of his sentence do not allow him to look away.

A strike from an Orbital Enforcement Emplacement deals 3MDMG

[The Indominable Nekomata Brigade]

A storied OSMAP combat unit, known best for their participation in the liberation of Sigma Draconis. Specialize in small-squad tactical strikes. Founded initially by liberated paracoitas, most of whom have been resleeved into combat androids (see LSTR class).


A location for wilderness on the Rim.


Comfort 75 [+]


A small opening in the hillside, sheltered from wind and sand and sun. The entry passage curves sharply, blocking the inner chamber from view. The air within, regardless of the exterior conditions, is breathable.


A rough, naturally-formed cave, big enough for perhaps a dozen people to stand in. The walls are covered in cave paintings - handprints, abstract symbols, human figures. Horses, deer, arctothers, wooly rhinos, mammoths. A statue of a pregnant woman, three meters tall, sits crosslegged at the far end behind a small stone altar.


Eyes closed in meditation and smiling with some private amusement, she is throwing up the horns with one hand and cradling a softly-glowing flame-shaped chunk of carnelian in the other. Six additional arms of the same material fan out behind her in a halo of mudras and astras and a circlet of the same sits on her brow.


A low, flat stone. Cuneiform symbols are engraved on its surface. A hand-woven prayer-rug. A bowl for offerings, a bowl of water to wash one's hands

  • Text: "Let it be known that you hear the cries of your children. Let it be known that you are not blind to their suffering. Let it be known that you rage at injustice. Let the wicked cower before the thunder of your voice."
  • Clay jug of potent grain alcohol

Any players who critically succeed at their Comfort save will have the following dream.

Wide, rolling grassland broken by the occasional copse of trees. Wind in your face. Ice-tipped mountains in the distance. Down by the river, a herd of mammoths. Your mother toussels your hair and says "There's still a lot to do, tekha. It's okay to be afraid, but I know you can be brave. I'll be there if you need me."

If a player who has received the dream would take lethal damage from an attack, they will not do so; a brilliant fire of human shape will step from behind them and strike the attacker, dealing 1 MDMG to it and anything behind it. This will only happen once.

The cave vanishes when the players exit. They will never find it again.

Sunday, August 13, 2023

This is Technically Not a Homestuck Reread Post

Prior revisit posts: Avatar, Lord of the Rings, Cowboy Bebop, Fullmetal Alchemist, Wizard of Earthsea, Book of the New Sun pt 1 (Shadow & Claw), Book of the New Sun pt 2 (Sword & Citadel (plus Urth)

At the recommendation of longtime friend-of-the-blog Ivy, I started listening to Homestuck Made This World. It was recced to me as a thorough critical analysis of the comic with a focus on contextualizing the Great MSPA Mania in its cultural moment, and it succeeds very well at this. My listen is on-going as I write this introduction, having just gotten through the Intermission, and I will be writing as I listen along.

As I am not rereading Homestuck for this review (I have more than enough things to read and all of them are time better spent), this post's commentary will be built upon what I remember of the comic, personal reflection of that era, HMTW itself, and rewatching some of the animated entries.

Let us return to the trenches, and pour one out for all those comrades we lost during the Vriska Wars; let it never be said that we let the spider march forth out of quarantine thread unchallenged.

(Note: Michael and Cameron are the hosts of Homestuck Made This World, they are not characters in the comic.)


Some of you are likely among that blessed company of people who do not know what Homestuck is. This is good, in the way that not knowing about a certain play titled The King in Yellow is good, and I highly recommend you maintain this ignorance. But if your curiosity of the abyss cannot be swayed, a description in brief.

Homestuck is a very long multimedia webcomic about an increasingly-unweildy number of teenagers trapped in an increasingly-complex series of time loops brought about by their participation as players in a video game called SBURB, which is the mechanism by which the universe propogates new iterations of itself.

It contains more text that War and Peace. Most of that text is teenagers yelling at each other.


For the purposes of my own sanity, I will only be commenting on the part of Homestuck that I read back in the day. This lines up nicely with the premise of it being a reread, and saves me a whole lot of time because I only just got past the halfway point.

(For those unaware, Homestuck has 6 acts, plus an epilogue. Acts 1-4 constitute a quarter of the comic, Act 5 another quarter, and act 6 is a full 50%. The pacing is not good. i will be listening to HMTW until the end, but that will remain for my own bile fascination and I will not subject you to it.)


Character Overview

The Kids

  • John - A real goofy goober
  • Rose - The cool goth friend
  • Dave - Not nearly as cool as he thinks he is
  • Jade - Head in the clouds (this is funny because it is literal)

The Trolls

  • Karkat - Performative anger, all the time
  • Aradia - A ghost, and sometimes a robot
  • Tavros - Designated punching bag
  • Sollux - No one gives a shit about sollux
  • Nepeta - Feral catgirl and shipping enthusiast
  • Kanaya - Very polite lesbian vampire
  • Terezi - Probably not the best depiction of blindness in media
  • Vriska - Causing Problems on Purpose (TM)
  • Equius -, but less funny
  • Gamzee - A juggalo and that it, until the murders start
  • Eridan - Aristo reddit niceguy. Not a wizard
  • Feferi - Was late when they were handing out characterization

Some Other Kids

  • Jane - Another goober
  • Roxy - Crippling teenage alcoholism
  • Dirk - Slightly cooler than Dave, maybe
  • Jake - Adventure time ?

The Exiles

  • Wandering Vagabond - Post-apocalyptic mayoral canidate
  • Peregrine Mendicant - Postal worker
  • Authority Regulator - A narc
  • Windswept Questant - Royalty in hiding


  • Jack Noir - Bureaucrat turned mass-murderer
  • Doc Scratch - A charming man with a cueball head
  • Lord English - Lord British after Scotland, Wales and North Ireland leave

12 More God-Damn Trolls

  • We have entirely lost the plot by this point.

The Cherubs

  • I nearly forgot about these
  • I am now cursed to remember them
  • Absolutely the worst
  • Bad design
  • Bad characters
  • Bad

All of these characters have multiple iterations across timelines and universes, and none of it matters.


Plot Overview



Things Andrew Hussie Is Good At

  • Distinctive character voices
  • Visual humor
  • Shot composition
  • Compsci and game-logic jokes
  • Mechanistic worldbuilding
  • Elaborate Rube Goldberg puzzles
  • Identifying what will make the most people the angriest
  • Acting on the above impulse

Things Andrew Hussie Is Not Good At

  • De-escalating situations
  • Non-mechanistic worldbuilding
  • Knowing when to stop
  • Getting to the point
  • Avoiding pointless antagonism
  • Breaking kayfabe
  • Sincerity

Granted, I feel some sympathy for Hussie in that they were blindsided by extreme success they were not prepared for (including all the ways that can get pretty ugly online), but there were several big exit ramps on the road to dissolution and none of them were taken by any parties involved. As my listen through HMTW continues, the bare-faced cynicism becomes more and more difficult to ignore.


Acts 1-4 are still very good.

Act 5 is a drastic tonal shift and despite having some good and memorable components is really where the rot sets in.

Act 6 I have no positive opinions about


The music remains utterly unimpeachable. Toppest of tiers, greatest of greats, its what makes the whole thing tick. Sburban Jungle remains ingrained, along with all the rest, in the neurological equivalent of granite slabs fifty meters high. It's so fucking good.


  • Showtime (Original Mix)
  • Sburban Jungle
  • Beatdown
  • Dance of Thorns
  • Descend
  • Sunslammer
  • At the Price of Oblivion
  • Rex Duodecim Angelus

There are doubtless many I have forgotten


I wouldn't necessarily call the Homestuck fandom a cult, but it was certainly cult-shaped. (Edit: apparently Hussie said in an interview that they consider the Homestuck fandom to have been a cult they inadvertently started.)


While certainly a disaster for internet historians, I must admit that the loss of the MSPA forums comes as something of a relief. Tears in the rain and all that, but wow were a lot of those tears stupid.


I found Homestuck through TVtropes in...late 2010? I think that was it. I caught up during the hiatus right after Alterniabound, joined the forums immediately after.

It swiftly became an obsession, and it was not a healthy one. Emotional over-investment was the name of the game, and I was deep in.


I dropped Homestuck extremely early in Act 6, but I can't figure out when - it was before the ancestors showed up, which would put it somewhere between November 2011 and April of 2012, least according to the wiki. I had honestly thought I was in it for much longer, but it seems like I burned out flash-fire style. It certainly felt like an incredibly long time, but that's likely just the case when you're logged into the forums for most of your waking hours for a year and change. Timeline matches up with a swerve into much greater involvement with the SCP wiki, but I really thought it was longer than that... I hung around the forums for a little while after that but eventually got wise to how miserable it was and booked it for better pastures, that probably explains it.

Was an ordinary page that did it, something about Jake's inventory introducing some new mystery box and me realizing that no, Hussie was never going to break out of his closed-circuit storytelling and I had long ago reached the end of my patience for a matrioska mystery box. The overwhelming artifice, no matter how intentional, could not sustain itself and I was making myself miserable in my hopes that it would suddenly be something that it wasn't.

Dodged a bullet on that.


Two Best Friends Play SBRUB is the defining artifact of this period in my life, and it remains probably my favorite HS fanwork by a country mile.


Michael brings up Intermission-specific fans in that episode of the podcast, to which I say "Yes, hello, it is me."

Intermission remains one of my favorite parts and this is because it's basically Problem Sleuth II, and Problem Sleuth is great because Problem Sleuth is the kind of comic that invokes Hussie's strengths as an author. Incredibly silly, rapid-fire jokes in a nesting doll of absurdist game-logic time loops. Much of Homestuck contains this, but the Intermission wins out in the end because it is extremely fast and contains none of the padding that came to characterize the rest of the comic.


Opinion: The comic should have ended with [S] Cascade.


Best Character: None, asterisk

None, asterisk because all of them are more or less on equal footing when I look back at them - they are collections of traits and tropes to be compiled and recombined as needed for the circumstances around them. It's the reason the fandom grew as massive as it did - the best version of the characters is the one that exists in your own head, because you have built them into something that may or may not have support in the text.

That said, Wandering Vagabond. He hates monarchy and never has an annoying YA romance subplot, and thus combines two of the most noble and admirable qualities a person can have.

Also Karkat, everyone's favorite angry little shit-goblin. He's good too.


There was this guy I knew back in college, only other Homestuck fan I knew in real life. We were friends, and you'll note the loaded past tense. I didn't realize that it wasn't a particularly great relationship until years later. He was an ass; always had to be in the right, always had to be the cleverest. (Now who does this remind you of?) Did that condescending thing where someone talk around someone else's emotions to build up an argument of how they're irrational and how their view is correct. Should have cut ties with him a long time before I did. We might have bonded over Homestuck but we had very little else in common. At least two shouting matches over politics, and if you know mine you can guess what his side was. I invited him over for a couple game nights with some friends who didn't know him and got requests to boot him because he was being a sexist ass. (He got the boot.)

He would cosplay as Bro Strider for conventions, and I find myself instinctively recoiling at just seeing the character because of the correlation. What strange things brains are.

Last thing I heard, the guy was bitching about private organizations having mask requirements. He self-selected himself out of the one environment I was liable to cross paths with him in, and that's good.


An advantage of such a bogglingly huge fandom is that there was an equally bogglingly huge amount of high-quality fanart. I might still have my archive somewhere on a semi-bricked hard drive deep in storage, or perhaps it is gone for good.

I do legitimately miss the crazy things people would get up to in the image manipulation thread - HS has nothing if not a whole lot of easily-modified image character templates.


Despite it being a decade plus since I dropped the comic, I could still probably channel most of the character voices with a reasonable degree of accuracy. 

eB: yep!
tT: Correct. Two additional spring rolls, please.  
tG: how did he become a general anyway
tG: like
tG: was he commissioned officer
tG: or was it a battlefield promotion
tG: did he have beef with kernel sanders
tT: *Colonel.
gG: wait! could i get the takoyaki instead?
eB: dave what about the burger king?
eB: where does he fit into this?
tT: I believe that the Burger King is currently embroiled in a proletariat uprising led by the younger MacDonald.
tT: His head will be delivered it to Wendy on a silver platter, as John the Baptist was given to Salome.
gG: pffft you guys :D
eB: so karkat where are the other trolls?
aG: You rang? ::::)


The people demand justice for Nepeta.

(Note: I do not know, at time of writing, if justice for Nepeta was ever achieved. I only know that the people demanded it, and thus it was never granted.)

(Note: Nepeta's death remains a...well, it remains the brutal murder of a child whose main crime was being a dork. Bludgeoned to death with juggling pins. Killer gets off scott-free. People were, predictably and rightly, upset by this (she wasn't the only death in this sequence, either) and they were mocked for it.)


Best Fandom Joke - Pantskat

(A coloring error on one page made it look like Karkat - who was far in the background of the shot - was wearing his pants all the way up to his chin. People had a field day. It's fucking stupid and I think it's great.)


Lots of people praise Hussie's mythbuilding, and for the most part I find that to be extremely generous overstatement of importance. The one exception to that - and probably the only part of Homestuck I would point to and say "yeah, this part has some real value outside of itself" - is the reveal that the universe has cancer.

This is literalized in the comic - a tumor of Plot Contrivance embedded in a vast cosmic frog - but the principle remains, transcendent of its surroundings.

You do not have to dig deep into my own writings to see the echoes and after-images of this idea; I'm certain somewhere I invoke it outright, and if I haven't before I am definitely doing so now.


Now, I wrote an entire essay about how my creative methodology is about breaking things down into components and then re-assembling them in new and novel ways. You might recognize this as exactly what Homestuck is founded upon, but I do have a coherent justification for favoring one and not the other.

Homestuck is a closed circuit: everything that exists within it is connected to everything else and nothing exists outside of this network. Any potential expansion of scope will inevitably turn back inwards upon itself. It is the Star Wars expanded universe spun out to its final form. No matter how much material you put into it, it will never break beyond the boundaries of the circuit.

This, plus Homestuck's penchant for repeating patterns and providing numerous overlapping categorical schemas for those patterns to fit into, makes it incredibly good for people who want to make stuff using only those provided components (see: enormous homestuck fandom), and signficiantly less use to me, who likes settings to be messy and organic.

This closed-circuit design is part and parcel why, among all the media I will occasionally use as writing practice, Homestuck has never appeared - it cannot function in an open circuit setting, because its characters are just collections of tropes without any exterior circumstances influencing them. To put them in an environment where external setting matters would be to immediately watch the waveform collapse. The characters stop working and must become entirely different characters in order to function, thus negating the point. Like in that little bit I wrote above - if I didn't write Karkat according to his steroarchetype, he wouldn't really be Karkat anymore.


Homestuck is like Neon Genesis Evangelion: valuable as a piece of art, mediocre-to-bad as a coherent narrative, and will collapse entirely at the mere implication of real-world logic.


A theory: there is no outside world whatsoever in Homestuck. Earth is empty. Alternia is empty. No one else exists beyond the players of SBURB. It is the only appropriate state for a work as solipcistic as this.


Troll typing quirks are legitimately a fantastic way of getting across vocal nuance in text, but also I side with jan misali in saying that they get pretty excessive and make text to speech accessibility functionally impossible.


Serialized storytelling and the cycle of hype and disappointment are the worst and we are trapped in this World Homestuck Made. Thrice I have been burned greatly by it. I have learned my lesson.


I will accept the bitter pill Michael and Cameron have set on my plate: Equius is a fascist creep and the fandom's re-interpretation of him as weird but ultimately protective big brother figure to Nepeta is significantly more uncomfortable in hindsight.

Thus is fandom - eternally dulling the sharp edges to achieve the state of perfect blorbo.


So. This is the part about Vriska.

Now, while I will strip my sleeve and show my scars and say "these wounds I had on Troll Crispin's Day, holding the line against Vriskathread" a decade free from the Great Mania has cleared my head significantly. To condense a lot of thoughts into a small amount of space, Vriska the character is entirely separate from Vriska the narrative function.

Vriska the character is not to my liking whatsoever, but I can understand the appeal in a general sense. She's well written, as far as a Homestuck character will go, and I can't say she's not effective at triggering reader response. There's a reasonably effective tragedy to her story, though I find it not nearly as vindicating as her fans will claim.

Vriska the narrative function is emblematic of Homestuck's greatest sin. Her role is that of a hatchet: whenever Hussie needed to make people angry, whenever they needed to divide up the fanbase and start setting fires because negative engagement is good engagement for the content-hawkers, Vriska would be rolled out, do something heinous, and be rewarded for it. Any of the characters could fill that role, technically, but Vriska was convenient because she had a divisive status since her introduction. She was a deliberately weaponized character invoked in Hussie's eternal war with the fanbase.


Hussie really liked making jokes at the expense of anyone with a non-normative body, didn't they?


Hussie's repeated abdications of responsibility for what they write - provided in the text itself and in book commentary cited by HMTW - are incredibly tiresome.


God I forgot that Doc Scratch's primary narrative role was "well you see, Vriska was being manipulated by Doc Scratch" and motherfuckers he's not mind controlling her, she just decides to murder other children because some weird guy on the internet told her to.


Michael and Cameron bring up how even early on there are questions over whether Vriska is going to get her comeuppance, or if this is a narrative that's going to eschew the idea that villainous deeds go punished. I know that later on there's more of this, past where I read, but I think there is a third option that will end up going woefully unutilized: there's no need for karmic retribution on a cosmic level when the other characters have more than enough reason (the reason being that Vriska is an existential threat to everyone around her) to find a way to remove her from the equation for simple self-preservation. Characters having coherent motivations solves this problem, but HS is about determinism or some shit so we don't have those, Things Just Happen.


~ Squeedly-dee, squeedley-dum, let's all sing a squeedly song ~


I'm not going to write much about Act 6, because I read barely anything of it. It took the forward momentum and grand crescendo of [S] Cascade - all that waiting and anticipation - and sent it careening directly into a brick wall. I do not know what follows beyond, other than I have heard very bad things, and the content warnings towards the end of HMTW get increasingly thorough to the point that I can barely believe it.


"Well you see, the ending is about Hussie handing over the characters to the audience and their freedom from his deterministic authorial tyranny."

"So why didn't they put their money where their mouth is and slap a big copyleft license on it in a final act of over the top and self-indulgent showmanship?"



Revisiting the comic, even by proxy, I find myself once again confronted with the bizarre, toxic, paracsocial hell of the author-audience relationship that defines the comic. I was part of it, same as so many other people, so take that into account here. I was lost in the sauce.
It was ugly. I feel like I should call it abusive, in some new and unpleasant form that was born from the newly-forming (at the time) mechanisms of widespread parasociality. An artist continually mocking and berating the audience for emotional investment, especially when the artist has cynically calculated the ways to maximize engagement in the first place - and especially when the bulk of that audience are teenagers - it ain't good. It's a bad taste I can't wash out, a lingering miasma over the thing.

And everyone bought it for so long, just ate up the lie of "oh it's all an act, it's ironic!"

Nah. Hussie's disdain for the audience was the one genuine thing in this entire circus.

I suppose that's the lasting impression I have of the whole thing; The lingering internalized shame of being duped. Of falling for a grift. Of sticking with the clearly toxic person in your life. The plot, setting, characters - all so thin and sterile already that they can't even be recycled. The comic itself, herald of a maddened world that it did not create but merely ushered into being.

There was good to be had in it, but I wouldn't recommend it to anyone.

They can't all be winners, folks.

Monday, August 7, 2023

The Yuki-Onna: A Mothership Monster


Own work

No scenario, just a spookum. And what turned out to be a very productive layout for monster write-ups.

Unconfirmed Contact Reports is mere HOURS AWAY at time of writing.


(3)40 I:60

A shriveled corpse; might once have been a person or perhaps only the imitation of it; blue-black flesh split open, rotten blood frozen in delicate lacework halos; eyes frozen shut.

Portents and signs: Distant howls; low moaning from nearby; walls cold to the touch; corpses crusted with bloody ice; a faraway humanoid shape in the icefields.

  • Frigid Aura 2d10 - 5m range; negated by environment suit. If this attack causes a Wound, BODY save vs limb loss from frostbite.
  • Hideous Scream - Deafens for 5 minutes; negated by ear protection
  • Rending Claws 3d10 - Serrated talons. Wounds ooze black and tarlike.
  • Quantum Ghosts - Creates quantum consciousness copy of PCs hit by Rending Claws. Victims will be overwhelmed by simultaneous and contradictory sensory inputs and must make a SAN save to make any action beyond Fight/Flight/Freeze. Stress gain from failed rolls is doubled until the creature is dead. Creature will use projections and voices of incorporated ghosts to dissuade attack or distract victims.
  • Schroedinger's Step - Creature can teleport to any location that is not directly observed by a conscious mind.

Encounter Phases

  • Precombat 1: PC find portents and signs; last to be found will be visual contact, leading to Precombat 2.
  • Precombat 2: Creature initially appears at great distance (use barren extraplanetary environs to advantage). Will move via Schroedinger's Step when PCs blink or glance away (no need to mechanize this, just describe it for now). It will remain at distance, stalking players for several hours. Appears sporadically, but always closer than it was.
  • Combat Phase 1: Ambush - Creature will Schroedinger's Step to the closest location that provides access to the PCs where it is not directly observed. It will target isolated PCs if able; otherwise it will try to attack someone from behind (using doors, windows, vents, etc). Will normally attack first with Rending Claws and follow with Hideous Scream; If it cannot lay a sufficient ambush it will use Hideous Scream first and attack during the communication breakdown. Can only take action only when not directly observed.
  • Combat Phase 2: Wounded, the creature will flee via Shroedinger's Step and regroup. It will not attempt another frontal assault, only attacking PCs when alone or in pairs. It gains the following ability.
  • Cries of the Superpositionally Damned - Creature will use Quantum Ghosts to directly attack PCs minds. SAN save vs extreme intrusive thoughts encouraging paranoia, distrust & aggressiveness, lasting until the creature takes another Wound or the PC is rendered unconscious. It cannot control PC actions, only suggest actions
  • Combat Phase 3: Tarry ichor sloughs down in oozing sheets from its wounds. The creature now gains Grand Finale.
  • Grand Finale - Creature may make a Shroedinger's Step into a zone of perception. This will be heralded by a loud hiss and a sharp, bitter smell: PCs will get just enough time to make a single action before it appears, unleashing a wave of concussive force dealing 1-3 wounds to all Nearby. As per grenade, a successful BODY save may mitigate damage.

Death - The creature makes a noise similar to a vacuum swiftly filling with frigid air. Its body dissolves into an icy black slurry. The actinic after-images of its quantum ghosts flicker, faces contorted in distorted howls as their waveforms finally collapse.

Slurried Corpse of the Yuki-Onna

  • Retains its quantum-ghost generation property even in death - only requires contact with the nervous system of a metacognitive creature. It is possible to link these ghosts with a new host, if the corpse is used as a substitute for standard cryopod stasis fluid. BODY save vs permanent loss of a Wound.

Saturday, August 5, 2023

10 Additional Planets in the Solar System

Why not, let's throw some extra planets in here.

1. Vulcan

The large, volcanically-active moon of Venus. Hazy atmosphere of mostly C02, and other carbon and sulfur compounds. In extremely close orbit with its parent world.

2. Juno

The 5th Galilean moon: a superterrestrial world of 2.6 Me, with a thick atmosphere of methane, nitrogen, CO2 and ammonia. Frozen, but not as cold as it would otherwise be expected to be, thanks to atmospheric insulation and moderate tectonic activity maintained by the tidal stresses of Jupiter.

3. Janus

A small, rocky world within the orbit of Mercury. No atmosphere to speak of. Tidally-locked to the sun, which has rendered the solar pole a sea of molten stone and metal.

4. Poseidon

A 3.1 Me waterworld between Mars and Jupiter. Dense CO2 and water-vapor atmosphere. Lack of free oxygen indicates that, if there is any life on the planet, it has not evolved photosynthesis or an equivalent process.

5. Apollo

Earth's second moon; a metallic asteroid not even big enough to maintain a spherical shape. A captured body of drastically different composition to Luna, containing economy-devastating amounts of rare earth metals in easy reach.

6. Ixion

A brown dwarf in the Oort cloud, possessing a cluster of small, icy moons. One of these is in close enough orbit that Ixion's radiant heat and tidal stress is sufficient to keep it an icy slush.

7. Dionysus

Captured planet of primarily ethenol ices. Wobbly, extremely elliptical orbit likely to collide with, be captured by, or ejected by Saturn at some point in the future.

8. Athena

A rocky world similar to Mars in terms of size and atmosphere, located among the Greek Camp asteroids at Jupiter's L4 point. Pockmarked surface from eons of meteor impacts, has four surviving moonlets.

9. Hestia

Terrestrial world of 0.62 Me located in Earth's trailing L5 point. Has a somewhat sparse atmosphere and does not appear to have surface water, but there is oxygen and water vapor in the atmosphere and that has people very excited indeed.

10. Persephone

A moon of Pluto. Far too dense for its size and apparent composition. An icy crust sits over unknown contents. There is no proof that it is artificial, not yet, but...

Sunday, July 30, 2023

MOSH: Appendix M-DAN and the Mothership Soundtrack


Kill Six Billion Demons (Tom Parkinson-Morgan)

Cowboy Bebop (dir. Shinichiro Watanabe)

Prophet (Graham, Roy, Dalrymple, Milonogiannis)

Hyperion (Dan Simmons)

Andor (dir. Tony Gilroy)

Dorohedoro (Q Hayashida)

Children of Time (Adrian Tchaikovsky)

Book of the New Sun (Gene Wolfe)

Atomic Rockets (Winchell Chung)

Orion's Arm

SCP wiki, series 1-3

Citizen Sleeper (Jump Over the Edge)


Prospect (dir. Zeek Earl & Chris Caldwell)

Ghost in the Shell: Stand Alone Complex (dir. Kenji Kamiyama)

Delta Green (Glancy, Detwiller, Tynes)

Disco Elysium (ZA/UM)

Signalis (rose-engine)

Hardspace Shipbreaker (Blackbird Interactive)

Halo Reach (Bungie)

Mass Effect (Bioware)

Eclipse Phase (Posthuman Studios)

Seedware, Farcast, H-Rep (Wallace, Derie, Unit Omega)

Mothership the Soundtrack

Unlike with the MSF soundtrack, the majority of these don't have dedicated components or an order, and so I have left out the meta-titles. And also the links because that was a pain and a half the first time.

e. Ivy has very graciously made a spotify playlist of most of all of these.

[1] "Copy that, Oriole, you're cleared for docking on spur 43. Welcome home."

[2] Had to limit myself on the Bebop tracks, otherwise the whole list would have been just that soundtrack.

[3] Same as [2].

[4] Friday night at the ISWU Local #975.

[5] Drinking away your paycheck.

[6] Theme of the Panan Sho syndicate.

[7] This song could be a total hoax and I would not care - it's a great story.

[8] Raid on the deepwell blacksite.

[9] Hans Zimmer has never gotten over this song and has been trying to recapture it for a decade, and has failed continually. Also the theatrical version had to be reconstructed which is bonkers nonsense.

[10] Orbital drop over Sigma Draconis d.

[11] I don't think there's a better exncapsulation of cyberpunk than this song and the scene it is from - nothing short of a dirge for the world.

[12] Clawing ever upward towards liberation.

[13] Many thanks to MickyJim for this rec - I haven't played any of the 343 Halos so the music gets to be only rarely.

[14] The Zeruel sequence is easily my favorite example of cosmic horror in media. The time of Fucking Around is over; now it is the age of Finding Out.

[15] I don't think there's a track in existence that is more poorly served by its accompanying material than this. It deserves some K6BD level magic kung fu bullshit.

[16] Bioware was aiming way higher than their weight class with Sovereign, and boy did that bite them in the blubber later down the line.

[17] A Jovian slingshot followed by a 3G burn. Ramming speed.