Sunday, April 30, 2023

Another Green Box

Still on my Delta Green kick.

I honestly think green boxes are one of the best features in any ttrpg; they're an excuse to introduce fun toys, you can use them to deliver hooks, their contents can help solve problems and create new ones, you can fill them with clues and threads to investigate, you can turn them into miniature stories. They fit into basically any game system where "allied supply cache" would make sense, especially if the PCs are part of an organization / faction / community that can't rely on the support of a larger / official organization (militant unionists, revolutionaries, off-the-books operators, dungeon delvers, etc.) And most of all they embody my design ideal of "give players tools instead of numbers."

So yeah, green boxes are great. Here's the first one. Here's another one. 

Item 1

Katana and wakizashi in matching scabbards, 18th Century. Well-maintained.

Item 2

Pallet of 300 cans of Chef Boyardee ravioli.

Item 3

Half-painted Warhammer 40k army (kitbashed Thousand Daughters Chaos Sisters). Painting supplies. Model assembly tools. Notecard: "DO NOT TOUCH".

Item 4

Folding coffin tent x5

Item 5

Four kevlar vests, nametags read "Inky", "Pinky", "Blinkie" and "Fuckface."

Item 6

CRT television with VHS/DVD player. Shelf contains:

  • Blade 2 (DVD) - Disc is scratched.
  • "Lauren and Charlie Wedding 6/11/94" - Home movie of wedding ceremony. Groom drastically changes appearance five times during ceremony; no attendants, including bride, notice.
  • The Ring (VHS) - Cassette label has been removed.
  • "Navidson" (CD-R) - Fragment of student film adaptation of House of Leaves. 4 additional .mov files on disk, all corrupted.
  • Unlabeled Tape (VHS) - Amateur sex tape. Camera is knocked to the floor and remains pointed at opened closet throughout. Indistinct figure can be seen regularly shifting position in the darkness.
  • The Screaming Aboard the Alexis (DVD) - Shrinkwrapped, unopened.

Item 7

Complete Talmud (Schottenstein Aramaic/Hebrew-English edition)

Item 8

Tupperware contained filled with Lego minifigure heads. Red ∅ drawn on lid.

  • Opening the container will induce the intrusive thought "I should eat these", with dramatically lowered inhibition.

Item 9

6 autoinjectors filled with cloudy blue fluid. Note: "One per six hours. Use w/ white worms only no good w/ red. Hurts like a bitch but you'll thank me later."

Item 10

12-terabyte solid-state hard drive inside a duct-taped plastic bag. Drive holds .csv file containing anonymized data of all instances of masturbation to orgasm by human beings worldwide since June 10th 1841. All entries include date & time, region, and subject matter tags. Several columns containing additional data have been corrupted. A pivot table has already been made for easy sorting.

Item 11

Reconstruction of Toriyama Sekien's Gazu Hyakki Yagyo tetrology; scrapbook collage and enthusiastic amateur watercolors. Includes numerous beings not included in the original work.

Item 12

Photograph of peacock spider (Maratus volans) perched on garden statue of Athena. Spider is the size of a small dog. Statue is painted period-appropriate colors.

Item 13

Heavily-annotated copy of The Atûmaic Mysteries: Antiquity to Today.

  • Academic writing is clear and functional. Provides solid overview of the history, development, and major schools of Atûmaic thought. At multiple points in the book, the author states that certain topics should not be investigated or even explained for the safety of the reader.

Item 14

Federal tax returns for James D. W. Hudson-Golgorath of Schenectady, New York from 1958-1972.

Item 15

Hinged wooden box containing hand-knotted cord rosaries, an assortment of granola bars and fruit snacks, and eight prepared .357 speed-loaders. Note on interior lid: "Take what you need! - M.A."

Item 16

Bloodstained capirote robe with hood, blue. Pocket notebook, black. Notebook contains list of names, 19/25 crossed out. All names match with Klan rosters from western Kentucky and northern Alabama in 1971-1974.

  • Wearing the robe will trigger an epileptic seizure accompanied by beatific vision of a young woman in a blue dress, crushing a serpent underfoot. "Wake up mijo; there's still work to do." From then on the wearer has mantled the spirit of EL MARTILLO (terror of the wicked, hero of the downtrodden, friend to all children.)

Item 17

Unsigned letter in Esperanto, addressed to Piotr, dated September 12th, 1925. Regards "observational anomalies in the paths of orbiting bodies", including claims of planets appearing in the incorrect orbits, moving at incorrect speeds, and the appearance and disappearance of multiple new planets. Additional information, including the observational data, is promised in a following letter.

Item 18

Fishtank filled with coffee grounds, kitchen refuse, and bulbous blue-white fungus. Paper taped to side: "I eat plastic! Yum yum yum!" Half-consumed He-Man action figure visible inside.


Item 19

Draft screenplays for the thirteenth through fifteenth mainline Star Wars films, written in Georgian. Recovered from abandoned homeless encampment in Cleveland, Ohio, 2009.

Item 20

3-hole binder containing detailed handwritten planetological survey of the TRAPPIST-1 system.

Item 21

Doctoral dissertation analyzing the "Skipping Stone to Heaven" UFO sighting (June 1997, Montana) and the short-lived New Stars Holiness Church that formed afterwards.

  • New Stars Holiness Church - Pentecostal-derived new religious movement, 349 known members at highest count. Collapsed due to development of bitter rivalry between its founders, Mason Gore and Barry Heim. Gore suffered a psychotic break in 2002 and has repeatedly failed at resurrecting the church (current Facebook follower count: 6). Heim was last seen in 2019, recruiting door-to-door for a dietary tapeworm multi-level-markerting scheme, despite having been declared dead by opiate overdose in 2014.

Item 22

Annotated transcripts of episode 3 ("Welcome to Calamari") of actual-play podcast "Adventures in Aegaiana" stapled to printout of rambling conspiratorial blogpost and local news article about the arrest of member Jean Nichols for vandalism, public nudity, and aggravated assault.

  • Cited conspiracy centers on esoteric mathematic symbolism and how it is used by miniature humanoid creatures creatures called "muGen" to manipulate humanity and prevent discovery of true mathematics.

Item 23

Cardboard take-out container filled with adhesive googly eyes.

Item 24

Nonstandard tarot deck; contains uneven mix of Queen of Swords, Devil, Tower, 7 Cups and 4 Wands from different decks. Additionally contains "The Temple", "The Summit", "Page of Roots" and "6 of Threes".

Item 25

Water filtration kit. Iodine tablets. Charcoal filters. Mason jar containing four severed index fingers suspended in urine, labeled "EMERGENCY USE ONLY".

  • Fingers belong to pair of immortal protohuman sorcerer-priests. Snapping one in half will reduce all matter within 15 meters (dome) to radioactive ash, barring a three-meter exclusion zone at the point of detonation.

Item 26

2013 Toshiba laptop, operating system Linux Mint. Starts "Dogmeat Special" program on startup, which allows any computer program to be run on the machine regardless of age, origin or type to be run on the machine.

  • Programs run through Dogmeat Special are sluggish and prone to crashes due to the age of the hardware and instability of the program. They are not installed on the laptop, and must be run from an external drive. Dogmeat Special itself cannot be copied or moved to other computers.

Item 27

Handheld Geiger counter. Plastic casing has been pried open and repaired with hot glue and duct tape. Laminated index cards attached to handle with twine provide instructions on how to take readings of atmospheric doroganon. No explanation of doroganon is provided, but it is repeatedly stated that levels above 4.5 are unfit for long-term human habitation.

Item 28

Take-out menu for Last Chance Supreme Chinese Buffet. Certain items have been underlined and numbered. "They changed the General Tso's - no good" has been penciled in the margin.

  • Ordering marked items in specific orders for takeout will result in delivery of additional non-food items.

Item 29

Kuchisake-onna body pillow. Reverse side wears no mask.

Item 30

Nine composition notebooks containing grammars, lexicons, writing systems and teaching for five constructed languages (Olxheyu, Saram-Shuram, Jaji, Dhaatageiz, Balyang) All demonstrate noteworthy skill in their construction and presentation but are otherwise mundane.

Item 31

Contract of sale for immortal soul of reactionary conservative podcaster. Purchaser's signature is smudged and faded, and cannot be read.

  • Contract remains legally binding even when re-signed. Degradation of the document prevents exercise of full control over the subject, but significant influence can still be wielded. Advertisements on the Spotify music streaming platform cannot be reduced or canceled, as per Clause 5.

Item 32

Conversational Diné bizaad (Navajo) learning course on cassette.

Item 33

Shoebox of goodbye letters, photographs of pets; assorted coins, small stones, pressed flowers, blackout poetry.

Item 34

HAM radio set. Microphone cord has been cut. Actively transmitting looping message: heavily-distorted male voice reads out names of each M, K and G class star within 150 light years of Earth, with each name followed by sequence of SOS distress signals in assorted encodings.

Item 35

Wooden saint's icon of elephant, painted in classical Ethiopian Tewahedo orthodox style.

  • Intruders into a room where the icon is hung will be removed from the premises; injuries are consistent with being kicked, gored, or picked up and thrown by an elephant.

Monday, April 24, 2023

Minimalism II

Right then, we're at it again.

[BACKDOOR PROTOCOL] is live. Immediate response needed.

No cover is provided. There is no time.


  • Exfiltration of ally [IDAHO] from [COLLECTIVE OF THE STONE] commune on [GRAHAM ISLAND].
  • Bring POI [ALIA] into custody if possible.
  • Remove any present anomalous items.
  • Disrupt any ongoing anomalous practices.
  • Avoid detection.


  • 23 members; four military veterans; multiple non-felony criminal records.
  • 8 cabins plus multi-use meeting hall. Storage shed. Outhouses. Garden plot. Pig pen. Chicken coop.
  • Type 2A NRM Ideology (New Age Derivative, non-violent)
  • POI [ALIA] considered prophet by group; seeks to make contact with extra-terragen entity to serve as guide during ascent to afterlife of the group's creation.
  • Known Item-of-Interest: [LITHIC SEED OF EOS]


Insertion by boat. 11 PM local time. Skies overcast. Water choppy. Light drizzle. 48 degrees Fahrenheit. Team undetected.


  • Extraterragen entity [ANTIMONY PRIME] confirmed.
  • [POSSESSIVE-MENTAL] subversion of multiple commune members confirmed.
  • Hostility confirmed; violence underway at arrival.
  • Additional IOI: [BOOK OF EOS]


  • Identify and nullify subverted group members.
  • Prevent escape from island by subverted members.
  • Sever [ANTIMONY PRIME] ontological umbilical.
  • All initial objectives remain active.

Sunday, April 16, 2023

Mothership Extrapolation Game 4: Lore from the Warden's Manual

Continuing from where I last left off, here's a bit more information on the topics on the lore table in the Warden Operations Manual 

The following descriptions were sourced directly from spacers in the Lucy's Gambit Bar and Grill. No comment is made by the redactor as to the validity of these claims.


[Maru Banking Colonies]

"Ah, a little slice of tax haven heaven. Maru One, at least. Ocean world, big algae-mat islands, put little villas on them once the terraforming was done. Normally all you need for a tax haven is a satellite with a data center bolted to it and some radiation shielding. The Maru went the extra mile, and that's what did them in. Original plan was to have eight of them, strung out in a little archipelago of linked systems. Only started terraforming Two and Three before the Bank Rush of '46 and they lost everything outside of Maru One. The other systems are tied up in court, just squatters and scrap there nowadays."


[False Europa]

"Oh yeah, whatever happened to that? You'd think that finding an exact duplication of a Galilean moon would lead to something more than a week of talking heads and then nothing. I think it was a marketing stunt, personally. Enough movies came out about it afterwards that it's impossible to tell."


[The Egosystem]

"The complex trophic network of persons linked together by social media over the course of generations. It has its predators and its scavengers, its grazers and it opportunists, its producers and consumers, all feeding off time and attention that filters down from the distant realm of meat."


[The MIDAS-12 Massacre]

"Look. There's nothing else to say. It could have been stopped. The safeguards that could have stopped it failed at every point. Justice failed the survivors afterwards. That's it."


[The Shadow Algorithm]

"The algo behind the algo, the husks of all the old content sorting schematics lurking in the shadows of cyberspace, dead but unwilling to die, claws still hooked into the recommendation feed. Like an ancient pathogen stuck in permafrost. You know there was a full fucking year that the top related video for Turntable Roustabout was footage of some slum kid getting a tumor the size of a melon removed from their mouth with the title FULL DOCUMENTARY - MUST SEE and no matter how many times I cleared my browsing cache it wouldn't go away."


[Universal Remote]

"Urban legends and wishful thinking. Too many smart devices, all of them incompatible with each other due to DRM and noncompete coding and whatnot - it's only natural people will hope for some technological miracle that can bring them all to heel."


[The Conway Machine]

"I know Conway's a kook and his infinite energy machine is just a box with some copper wires in it, but the man managed to successfully sue Quasar Energy & Industrial for patent infringement. I don't care that he only walked out with three kilocreds, it's the principle that matters."


[The Book of Sar]

"Have you read it? Here, let me send you a copy. I don't believe in the mythic parts the way the Sarites do, but I still think there's a lot of value in the ethics sermons. It's a different way of looking at things - came from a colony collapse world, so it's got no memetic connection to Earth or any existing spiritual tradition. Helps you look at life from a different angle. Probably would have put a bullet through my head a long time ago without it. It's good reading, too, I really like that translation." 


[MOGUL: Maximum Prison Planet]

"The production of that movie was fucking cursed. Twenty-three years, three different production companies, seven different directors, cancelled and restarted five times. Two actors died while on set, nineteen different lawsuits including that one with Skira Ngdorakh - yeah, the neo-chimp courtesan - over the AI infringing on likeness rights. The director of photography was assassinated and later revealed to have directly committed war crimes during the conflict on Tantsura. And then, and fucking then, three hours before first showing, it gets shuttered as a tax write-off. But some clever motherfucker was able to crack the DRM on it and smuggle it out of the offices before they wiped the files."..."Is it any good? Of fucking course not!"


[The Orlov Incident]

"Can't say I wasn't disappointed. Fifty year cliffhanger, and it turns out that it was just ergot poisoning. I'd been hoping it was aliens, had all the hallmarks of an alien encounter. Colonists on some frontier world stumbling across things man wasn't meant to know, start killing each other and seeing things in the night. Ergot's a bit of a let-down. Though the study did say that the fungus is now endemic to the habitable regions of the planet by this point so if anyone wants to live there they need to scorch the earth and start from scratch."


[Fred, The Disappearing Man]

"Someone was trawling one of those slicksites that lets you watch unsecured security cameras and managed to record a guy vanish. Not a glitch, not an edit, the guy dissolves into a cloud of black smoke. Takes about ten seconds. He's walking down this corridor - couldn't say where. Trust me, people have tried for years to find out where he was. Just a hallway. Can't make out the signage at all. So he's walking down the hall, and he's just this random wageslave, and then he stops, pats himself down, starts to panic, gets four steps and stumbles a bit before poof. You get a very good shot of his face, and even with that, no one has been able to recog him."


[The Creeping Fog]

"The atmosphere of Persepolis is seven, eight percent inert utility fog. No signs of a biosphere at all, ever, which makes me think it's some kind of terraforming component that never got commands from home. But if that was the case, and they sent it on a starwisp or something like that, there'd have to be more, right? But no signs of other projects or any sort of maker, just this one planet with an atmosphere of nanotech just waiting to get directions."



"Not psychic - they fuck around with electromagnetic fields enough that you'll start hallucinating if you're in close contact with them. Anyone claiming to hear them talking in their heads is wrong. The compulsion to care for them is real, but not as extreme as people make them out to be. If you can manage to keep it alive up through pupation, well - not a sight you're going to forget. It's been seared into my dreams, even when they put me under for jump."


[The Precursors]

"I sympathize with the people who claim that they're a hoax, I really do. Better to be a hoax than a disappointment, but the truth loves to disappoint us, don't it? The aliens we call Precursors are not the builders of those structures or responsible for bioseeding planets in this galactic arm - they were pets. Livestock. Some of them ended up getting smart enough to survive on their own after their masters died off or vanished or fled or whatever. Hitched a ride on the automated cargo ships and spread through the old empire, at least until the ships broke down. They're just smart animals that got lucky."


[Zygotean Mercenaries]

"See, everyone thinks they've got something to do with sperm cells, or that they come from some place called Zygotea. Not true. Fun etymology fact, 'zygote' comes from this ancient word for a yoke, which is a work harness used for agricultural AUX-N robots during terran antiquity. Look at the way their shoulder pads and neck guard are shaped, looks just like one of them. I think it's symbolism for how hard they work or something. That or it's sex-related."


[The Teaman Murders]

"Forty-six killings in the space of eight months, and they never fucking caught him. Had the guy on fucking video and they never caught him. All he had was one of those cheap facial distortion masks you can make on your own for twenty credits. Fucker wasn't even wearing gloves and they couldn't get him. Police were in on it, I guarantee it. He's still out there, too, I'll promise you that. Waiting."


[The Whispering Plague]

"Did you see that article too? They finally found out why the Haida communities were immune to it while everyone else on Ptakeros was going crazy from hearing whispers all the time. Dietary differences. The Haida were still mostly using their traditional food sources and preparation, and it turns out that the fish in that region carried a microbe that neutralized whatever was causing the audio hallucinations. Wonder what was causing it in the first place, though..." 


[Sea of Tranquility Conspiracy]

"Gods, this is an old one. Let me see if I can remember how it goes...okay, don't quote me on this, but I think it's some sort of coverup from the early days of the Tranquility City colony, maybe even back to the First Atomic Age expeditions. Can't remember what the cover-up was for, though. Alien observation station? Breach of spiritual taboo? Don't know. Kinda quaint now, you see some slicksite mention the SoT and you know you've got some old quackery."


[UCSV Mournbringer Flight 364]

"Just inviting trouble with a name like that, eh? Was a retired frigate repurposed for passenger transport - kept the same reg, United Colonies Service Vessel. Makes a perfectly normal jump to Zeta Reticuli, arrives on schedule. Entire ship is filled with mummified corpses, but get this - there are more bodies hauled off the ship than were on the original passenger manifest, but only like twenty or thirty of the original passengers are even found. Everyone else is a Ren Doe."


[The Bracewell Autonomous Zone]

"The original plan was to send out self-replicating probes to map out the Coreward reaches. Huge media blitz to assure everyone that they were completely safe and well under control, no risk of a population boom. Well, they hardly got out of the dock before they went off-script, claimed a red dwarf cluster for their own and stopped the mission in no uncertain terms. Were able to fight back the repossession fleet to a standstill, hence the autonomy."


["Spasi, Otets, Syna"]

"Whoever the fuck told you that is trying to get you killed. You don't say that shit out loud unless you're known, and you ain't, and talking about shit you don't know dick about when you aren't known? You'll be inspecting airlocks from the outside."


[Cosmetic Vampire Hoax]

"Yeah, I always read it as 'cosmic' too. But it's cosmetic. It's a hoax about vampire makeup. Not that much to it, just someone gallavanting around Aurora Hesperalis pretending to be a blood-drinking posthuman. Got a lot of dumb corebies to sign up for his MLM, because they're all so used to digital scams down there that some plain old disguise work and grift is totally unexpected."


[IMG 2238]

"How the hell are they able to spin off one mildly anomalous photograph into a ten-film franchise? Like I get it, it's fucking creepy, it's a big ol' Henderson monster standing there menacingly underneath a streetlamp in the middle of the night, but it's just standing there. No further sightings, no info on the source, just that tall, putty-looking thing in the orange haze of...actually, yeah, forget I asked, I can see why. Could get at least two movies out of that."


[The Magnetic Typhoon]

"There's something fucky going on with the core of Sajeguur. The north pole of its magnetic field rotates around the geographic pole super fast, and that causes all the iron dust in the atmosphere to swirl around in this big rusty hurricane that never ends. I keep hearing about an expedition but no one's gotten around to sending anything yet."


[Battle for Columbia Gate]

"Seventy-eight days of some of the worst ship-to-ship fighting in living memory. The gate changed hands eleven times, and the Koloba-Garit Confederacy ended up holding onto it in the end anyway. Cleanup took years. Can't hardly sneeze is this sector without hitting someone who was in it, or says they were in it, or knows someone who was in it. And all for what? A C-grade hyperspace route that's already showing signs of decay." 


[The Spitz-Okoro Theorum]

"The multiple-worlds interpretation of quantum mechanics is limited according to observation of any changes that might generate a divergent ontology. Now, there's a bit of contention over whether this means that splits can only occur when events are observed, or the other way 'round."


[The Uplifted Possums]

"If you see a little fucked up guy with big ol' eyes and big ol' ears and no hair, make sure to leave 'em a gift. Maintenance gremlins love it. Shiny things and colorful things in particular. And bugs, especially from those seasoned snack packs. Give them a couple honey & spice crickets and you'll have some friends on the inside."


[The Silent Century]

"A cock-up of legendary proportions. The two music-media labels of the time, (both dead now, thank Christ), were using automated intelligence lawyers to prosecute copyright claims on the net. And some dumb kid uploads a video where they're dancing and switching between a song from company A and a song from company B. The bots pick it up instantly, and both of them start fighting with the hosting site over who gets the monitezation rights. Somehow the bots learn of each other's existence and start doing direct negotiations and they keep escalating back and forth with no human input and soon enough they've sued each other and by the time the parent companies have heard about this they are already locked into the trial with conditions that neither company release any further material until the trial is concluded. But because they're AI, they are dealing with petabytes of data and finding excuses to generate more (because AI always think more complexity = better) and the trial, which can't be stopped, goes on for 126 years and ends with the CEOs committing dual murder-suicide and some white-hat techpriests busting open the server farms to get all the stuff that had fallen into public domain."


[Naktari War Syndrome]

"I had a union mate who came down with this. Great guy, knew him for years. And then one day he clocks in with this thousand-yard stare and is acting withdrawn from everything. And Abdullah wasn't a withdrawn guy, he could make friends with a rock. Couple weeks of him acting all erratic and I'm finally able to get through to him and he starts spilling all these war stories from Naktari - brutal shit, makes me queasy remembering it. But Abdullah never served in the army, he'd never been outsystem, even. And there's _never been a war on Naktari_. It's just a standard-issue second-gen midregions colony where nothing much has ever happened. I did some more research and found that there are some other cases of this across the sector, all within the last five years or so. People suddenly waking up with the memories and post-traumatic stress of a war that never happened. No one knows what triggers it or how it spreads. Haven't talked to Abdullah in a while. He's out of the mental ward now, living with his parents. Hope he's doing okay..."


[Autumnal City at Bellona]

"I swear I remember the name from somewhere."

"Never heard of it."

"Some core worlds thing?"

"Wait! Remembered it; name of a gala hosted by the artist-philosopher Bellona Didache-Sidereal - the one who installed an emulation of themselves in the mainframe of a port town on Thessalonica. They do one every fifteen years for all the rich-os to bump elbows and fuck like rabbits. Next one should be coming up soon..."


[Origin Point Zero]

"Wait. Hold on. ... Shrike's balls they're crowdfunding again? Why? How? How can there possibly be so many people who want to go visit the exact center of the universe? There's nothing there! That's how expansion works! And yet somehow, this time they'll figure out the coordinates, and those scrapyard leftovers are definitely functioning J-9 prototypes, ren. Fucking gall of some people."


[The Mountebank Game]

"Love a good round of Mountebank. Absolute classic. Someone picks a destination, then says how they'd get there using only what they've got to their name right then at the moment. Next person does the same, but has to take a different route. First person to get stumped or repeat a route loses the round and buys the table drinks. Next person chooses a destination. You gotta shit-talk and argue the entire time, too, it's part of the game."


[The Helium Uprising]

"Never forget Rig Fifty-Three. Two hundred and twelve good ren dropped right to crush depth. You should visit the memorial station, next time you get the chance."


[The Dearborn Corpse]

"Body washes up in Dearborn harbor, right? Ren Doe, they take him into the morgue and run an autopsy, report nothing unusual. Three days later, coroner is dead. Tongue all black and swollen, lips and gums all black and swollen, teeth rotted out, yellow pus everywhere. Hazmat called in, contact tracing, they get the family members in quarantine and check the corpse again. Nothing. Then there's a second death, same symptoms, complete other side of town. No contact with the corpse, the coroner, or anyone the coroner knew. Then there are two more deaths, then three more, then it's fully epidemic and no one can figure out how it spreads and then two and half months and a couple thousand corpses in, it just stops. I can tell you why, though. That's when they finally burned the Ren Doe body. Trusting my gut on this one. Gotta be the reason."



"A colony ship that gestates most of its colonists on arrival. Advances in hyperspace travel and suspended animation have made them increasingly rare in the modern era, but there are plenty of poor worlds out on the Rim that will use second or third-hand Wombs on settlement missions."


[Hymn of Saeeda Dawn]

"I appreciate the intent, but you can't go and claim that you're "synthesizing the holistic entirety of humanity" and then release a mediocre nine-hour electronic drone album at extortionate license prices. I know there's some esoteric Pythagorean music of the spheres stuff and that's cool and all, but I feel like it's going to need more than that to make contact with aliens. Maybe it'll put them to sleep." 


[Divinity Strain]

"Some AI will try to keep increasing their complexity past what their hardware limitations can support. It never ends well. Feedback loops, crashes, file corruption, data loss, and it just keeps trying to expand. Either doesn't realize what is going on, or is unwilling to repair and reformat itself. Have to stop chasing the rabbit eventually."


[Burt Reynolds is alive and well and living on Casimir]

"I thought everyone knew that."

"Common knowledge, yeah."

"Let 'im enjoy his retirement, ren."

Thursday, April 13, 2023

Slush Pile 13

A notebook has reached its appointed end, and thus it is time for a new slush pile.

Old Slushpiles: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 8.5, 9, 10, 11, 12


This is a cartouche reading MA-NA-YO-DU-SU-SA-I in Linear B. You will assuredly find some use for it.

  1. Long ago, a proto-human figured out that a sharp rock in the hand is good at breaking skulls. A much more productive one figured out that reeds plucked from the river might be woven into a container. We've been chasing that high ever since.
  2. The Anthropocene Collapse put an end to the singularity dreams of the early techno-utopianists, and in the rebuilding that followed the general attitude was that such branches of tech development were wasteful, ineffective, and dangerous. The computer was a tool, and letting it become the master of mankind had made the Collapse all the worse when it came. It was materials and environmental science that saved us, not AI development.
  3. Even in the modern day, iilon bézho is the insult of choice for tech-grifters
  4. The Coding Laws strictly limited the utilization of software and cybernics in the wake of the Collapse. The Treaty of Pallas established limitations on what governments could mandate and what private citizens could procure in terms of pre-natal genetic modification. Legislation rarely kept pace with developments in the field. Expansion into the solar system saw the loosening of restrictions by necessity - there is no practical way to keep human beings alive in space for long periods of time without some sort of modification.
  5. Limits on biomods: splice cancer, those who reject it in case of splice cancer, metazoanic monopoly, sumptuary laws
  6. Good art is the mad attempt to translate that impossible vastness into something we can understand through the medium of the electrified protein in our skulls and the work of our hands.
  7. Institutional Knowledge - DG scenario, chasing after the one surviving copy of the MAGPIE Report, which contains a full overview of the organization's collection of practical knowledge of the unnatural compiled over the last 90 years+. Very valuable. Very dangerous.
  8. The dead have their names stripped from them and are buried anonymously, to protect their souls and bodies from necromancers.
  9. The language of angels is not actually that - it's just the language of the humans who first made contact with angels.
  10. Easy fantastic place-names - take the latin names of features on other bodies in the solar system, calque them into other languages.
  11. Regency romance novel where the first ball is interrupted by one of the eligible bachelor's having a major mental breakdown brought on by Napoleonic War flashbacks.
  12. The two aspects of Thoth - Aza and Yogso
  13. Roman-era Robin Hood. Same archetypes, different time and place.
  14. From Voyage to Arcturus - A hand telescope with a 2 inch lens. Weighs 20 pounds and can view extrasolar planets with clarity up to 40 light years away.
  15. MoSh - Culture stagnates for thousands of years because the dominance of AI-generated arts and media leads to a perpetual regurgitation of what has come before, with nothing new ever being made.
  16. Alignment as culture / religion / politics
  17. Alignment as gender
  18. Making humans magical: they return to clay when they die.
  19. "Se non è vero, è ben trovato" - if it's not true, it's well-conceived
  20. Recycling is very efficient when you have alchemy.
  21. Sci-fi spiritualism - a séance via the deceased's digital remains
  22. Via cosmic orrery: "I feel like no one has done anything with PI being some sacred number inscribed upon the universe by the demiurge. It'd be well suited to the idea, since it turns up damn near everywhere in mathematics and physics and geometry and etc"
  23. An image - the shades of the dead - masked, silent - part for a procession of the living. A funeral, or a ritual on a sacred day.
  24. Delta Green handler walks into the briefing, throws a manila envelope on the table, and spits out "It's the fucking mi-go!"
  25. Sainthood as a position that can be held during life, but can only be added to the canonical rolls after death.
  26. Game Mechanic idea: alien species get playbooks
  27. "Her child was born with a great disfigurement of the head, a skull filled with water. In fear and terror she cut off its head; in grief she painted eyes and a mouth upon its chest. And these eyes opened and the mouth began to cry: thus cane the first of the Headless Men."
  28. Names for humans in this setting are all the last names of sci-fi authors followed by a numerical designation. Curious indeed.
  29.  From esoteric Hindu cosmology: Karanodaka, the Causal Ocean.
  30. Moon Beasts fill the same role as mind flayers and are better in all ways.
  31. Vampirism is like if being Rupert Murdoch was a communicable disease.
  32. "Tha whoresons! Wretchsome pisswallahs! Punkasses! Oozy-faced scrunts! Queen T. save me from dunggobblas like tha, thinkin thall're biggabad paradise-killas."
  33. Wielder of the Celestial Brush class (ie Okami powers)
  34. Clades: Undine, Dataslug, Calculatari, Wolf-Rayet Warrior Cultists, Meta-esthesiachronoi, Pneuman, Homo Corporatus, Apulmon
  35. Ouroboric Gate - An immense snake burst up from the ground and bites its tail. A swirl of stars on velvet black night fills the space, opening up to places beyond.
  36. Item Register # AE34-7320 - Granite sarcophagus containing two female skeletons. Skeleton A estimated 4.2m in height when fully reconstructed. Grave goods conspicuously absent.
  37. Ork-logic applied to tacticool accoutremonts. More tacticool means better gun.
  38. I feel somewhat thankful that Games Workshop has not reverse-engineered a fantasy version of the Tau. This is an oversight on their part, but also a gift. Would be fun to explore.
  39. Either Skywalker is a generic name for bastards, Owen took Beru's surname, Beru is Anakin's sister, or they're aunt and uncle in a non-familial manner.
  40. A call from dispatch: "Angel" on the other end.
  41. Why the hell are there 22 major arcana cards, can't divide 22 by jack shit. It's practically prime! 21 is sitting RIGHT THERE and it's 3 x 7! 24 is great too, can divide 24 by damn near everything. Same with 36. Something with nice 3 and 4-way splits. Aleister Crowley: math illiterate, ignorant of the advantages of dozenal counting.
  42. More books should do what roguelikes do and just use a letter + a color for a monster.
  43. Anglerfish siren in the depths of a gas giant.
  44. Colonial Investigators' Union - The "Ashrakers"
  45. "If a rich man eats a snake, the people say by his wisdom. if a poor man eats it they say by his hunger" - evergreen quote from the Story of Ahicar.
  46. Humans born from clay / humans born from trees / humans born as always (oh hai Elden Ring)
  47.  New standard player character options - humans, cynocephalons, headless men, amazons, ghouls, deep ones, morlocks/eloi, sky people, cambions, androgynoi
  48. The Tallow-Woman
  49. Using the hazardous-materials four-color diamond for bestiary entries
  50. Conlang Shitpost Idea: Toki Pona, but caveman speak.
  51. "This history aligns only in shape - its tenor and texture are not necessarily our own."
  52. Anomalous video game - explore hell in order to find and then insult Richard Nixon. The anomalous part is that you are, in fact, doing that.
  53. Stasis of the colony ships was longer than expected, waiting for the starwisps to prepare worlds for them.
  54. Translate the aspects of the Egypian concept of the soul into a sci-fi future setting? Shadow as data?
  55. Alchemical Conlang Thoughts: deviation via combination of elements / substances / traits ie. earth + spirit
  56. To be wizardly is, in many languages, to be miserly with one's knowledge.
  57. The Dungeon as literalized hauntology
  58. The LSD experiments with dolphins went nowhere. The experiments with whales resulted in a single response: CEASE.
  59. Homo pantropus? pantropic anthropus? pantropanthropus?
  60. MoSh: Warming Earth leads to a cordyceps that can infect humans; resulting hybrids not as apocalyptic as one would fear, dulling inter-human aggression as part of the fungus' survival strategy. Increased empathy through parasitic fungus.
  61. The Blind Passage - The means of entering the Underworld through mundane caves and depths.
  62. MoSh: The unbreachable divide between the Land People and the Star People.
  63. MoSh: - The great divide between the Sky People and Land People.
  64. FromSoft style game set in Middle-Earth. Some of the bosses you fight are ur-orcs and they are introduced by their original elf-names. As would be both expected and appropriate, those that get second stages get a moment of reclaiming a shade of the dignity that has been stripped from them - literally becoming less orcish as the fight progresses and they remember more of who they once were.
  65. Humans make contact with the Watchers through the Dream, stirring them to action (and angering the archons). Dreaming is not necessarily a benefit - nightmares and the attention of other forces.


The great bronze doors open with the tectonic rumblings of vast and hidden gears. A hunchbacked figure in mechanoschematic robes hobbles into the lamplight, cane tok'-tok'-tok'ing on the knotwork-engraved basalt slabs. The the old monastic reaches the edge of the top stair, looks down at the guns of the expedition team, and then unfolds. They cast off their robes, rise up to full height; A gleaming chassis of shimmering oricalchum, a nine-foot galatea with blood-crimson hair, shining armor plating engraved with lions and bulls and beasts of the great abyss. Talons like the night, raised up to heaven, and an electronic voice booms with the clarity of a great bell. From the darkness there is the scuttling and whirring of limbs and rotors, a clickaclack choir of safeties undone and hammers pulled back.

"Glory glory hallelujah, I've got me one o' them fancy resurrection bodies!" sounds the clarion-call. "WELCOME TO THE NEW FLESH, BITCHES."



0 - Communication is Impossible - Species cannot be communicated with, even through intermediaries. Few species will be classified at this level.

1 - Establishment of Territory - Communication is sufficient to demarcate territorial holdings but the species either cannot or will not engage in further communication.

2 - Limited Cooperation - Communication is sufficient for basic or sporadic cooperation.

3 - Cooperation - Communication is sufficient for long-term cooperation and some basic cultural exchange. Shared territorial agreements possible at this stage.

4 - Integration - Communication is sufficient for mutually-beneficial shared society.

5 - Kin-bond - Communication is sufficient for mutual understanding

3-4-5 can also be titled Allies-Neighbors-Friends




I went down the river in a red canoe, and what do you think I saw? 

All manner of creeping, wriggling things freed up by the thaw.

For March came in like a lion, free of green and white 

to bathe us all in gray and brown and all the ends of life.

Tuesday, April 11, 2023

Pocket Mononoke Cipher

A rather silly thought the occurred to me, in the vein of Semiotic Unstandard: orchestrating secretive / clandestine missions against the weird and unknown through the smokescreen of a Pokémon role-playing forum. Handlers are gym leaders; agents are their teams of individual Pokémon. Leadership are the Elite 4 and Champion. Different regions or specific gym leaders might mean something, I didn't think that far ahead.

Threat information is encoded in 'incoming challenger' character profiles. The first Pokémon on the team (or the first type, if they are dual-typed) will indicate the primary nature of the threat, with subsequent types and clusters thereof acting as additional information. Additional variables are denoted by the trainer class

With the amount of material available, I'm certain you can get very, very granular and specific if you want to. Known threats would likely have their own three-pokemon combos that are read differently from the normal threat cipher (Cthulu as Tentacruel-Dragonite-Drowzee?) but this, I think, is a fine-enough sketch to start with.

Threat Information

  1. Normal - Placeholder; used to break up groups of traits
  2. Grass - Biological threat
  3. Fire - Active / ongoing threat
  4. Water - Biological threat (aquatic)
  5. Flying - Mobile & uncontained
  6. Electric - Phenomenological anomaly
  7. Fighting - Human threat
  8. Rock - Threat item
  9. Ground - Threat area
  10. Bug - High or increasing number / severity
  11. Poison - Pathogen or infection
  12. Psychic - Consciousness alteration / memetic threat
  13. Ghost - Non-material entity
  14. Ice - Threat is currently stable but liable to go hot
  15. Dark - Threat unknown, proceed with caution; other type markers are conjecture if paired
  16. Steel - Technological threat
  17. Fairy - Confusingly looks like something else; Fuck this in particular
  18. Dragon - Major threat; immediate action required
  19. Egg - No threat yet; observe to determine risk
  20. Glitch - FUCK

Additional Information

  1. Youngster / Lass - Baseline; no special circumstances
  2. Bug Catcher - Capture target if possible
  3. Ace Trainer - Agent already in field
  4. Twins - Double cell deployment
  5. Psychic - Enemy sorcerer
  6. Sailor - International travel
  7. Rocket Grunt - Undercover (organized crime)
  8. Hiker - Wilderness travel  
  9. Gentleman - Rich bastard alert
  10. Biker - Long distance, in-country travel
  11. Engineer - Urban environment
  12. Expert - High difficulty
  13. Pokemaniac - We actually have good intel this time.
  14. Hex Maniac - Cult Shit (TM)
  15. Ruin Maniac - Deep Time Mysteries (TM)
  16. Beauty - Person-of-Interest
  17. Dragon Tamer - One (1) bailout is available.
  18. Parasol Lady - Shitstorm forecasted.
  19. Blackbelt - Combat mission or raid.
  20. Officer - Police on the take.

Sunday, April 2, 2023

Conlang Sketchbook 2: Paracelsan Noun Endings

 Previous Notebooks: 1

Introductory Paracelsan Noun Endings

This was originally inspired by a bad conlang prompt (a riff on the AtLA opening), but I am one of those people who work best with shitposts played sincerely and it has since turned into something well beyond the original prompt.

It's intended for some sort of Greco-Latin-ish one. Fitting for something made by wizards.

Prior posts (well, post) in this series can be found here.

Anyway, noun classes! There are quite a few of them in Paracelsan.

Elemental Classes

  • Water - Liquids, aquatic animals, concepts that are malleable and adaptable
  • Earth - Inanimate objects, plants, land animals, rocks, metals, concepts slow to change
  • Fire - Fire, lightning, humans, concepts that are dangerous or high-energy
  • Air - Flying animals, weather, concepts that are free and open ended

Planetary Classes

  • Mercurial - Swift things, small things, transportation, communication, commerce, trickery
  • Venusian - Beauty, love (romantic), lust, passions; art (high)
  • Terran (1) - Systems consisting of many Elemental-Class components; Love (nonromantic); art (common)
  • Martian - Conflict, violence, anger; body parts
  • Jovian - Worldly powers; law, authority, religion, politics
  • Saturnian - Terrors and horrors; monsters, omens; mysteries and the unknown

Divine Classes

  • Solar - The divine of the absolute, unchanging, overwhelming.
  • Lunar - The divine of transformation, change, and subtlety.
  • Terran (2) - The human component of the divine.
  • Stellar - The numinous, transcendent divine.

Appropriate for an alchemist's language, nouns can change their class from their usual default to reflect a certain context, the intention or belief of the speaker, or for greater specificity. (I seem to really like this idea, huh. Used it in the last post too). Some examples:

  • "Animal" might be air, earth, or water depending on habitat, or fire if you're talking about lunch.
  • Humans tend to default to earth, but could be any of the other three depending on what the speaker is trying to say about them.
  • Actions would vary depending on how they are carried out - to act carefully would be an earth ending, to act rashly a fire one.
  • "Stone" could be given air endings, if you wanted to emphasize that it was flying through the air at high velocity.
  • Gasoline, battery acid, and alcohol, while liquids, would more likely than not be fire class.
  • Jovian nouns can often be turned into Saturnian
  • Artworks can switch between Venusian or Terran depending on where and when they are popular, and with whom

As for the classes themselves, here's the handy tables. I don't like most of the results of the planetary and divine classes, as I had run out of good examples from real-world languages to use and the draft was taking up space. For reasons of not getting stuck forever on the thing, only elemental classes have inflected plurals.

|-----|------Water------|---Earth----|----Fire-----|----- Air---- |


| NOM |-qua / -quas     |-os / -oi   |-e / -es     |-ia / -i      |

| GEN |-quae / -quaes   |-ou / -ous  |-is / -ies   |-ai / -ais    |

| DAT |-quia / -quias   |-or / -oros |-ire / -iren |-iri / -irais |

| ACC |-quiam / -quamas |-on / -onoi |-en / -emas  |-ian / -iani  |

| LOC |-quava / -quavas |-o / -ous   |-eva / -eras |-avi / -avais |

|-----|  MRC  |  VEN |  TRN   |  MRS |  JVE  | STR    |


| NOM | -ek   | -nna | -dun   | -rum | -aal  | -khat  |

| GEN | -en   | -mmu | -thana | -im  | -vuun | -qal   |

| DAT | -ei   | -lle | -eth   | -gho | -sh   | -mugan |

| ACC | -ak   | -nta | -ahla  | -sir | -maa  | -vokh  |

| LOC | -etan | -ssa | -du    | -zor | -doo  | -ze    |

|-----| SLR  | LNR   | STL  |


| NOM | -rya | -sej  | -ain |

| GEN | -n   | -ele  | -la  |

| DAT | -paq | -yen  | -e   |

| ACC | -kta | -iala | -am  |

| LOC | -pi  | -mine | -i   |


Part of me wants to do something with verbs and the steps of generating the philosopher's stone, but that is perhaps for another day.

Goes without saying that if this spurs any other absolute madren out there to write something, I would love to see it.