Wednesday, November 23, 2022

Skorned Cyborgedpunks One Shot - Play-Report

Red
Min Yum

Play report of a cyborgedpunk one shot I ran for Wizard Lizard.

Rules were barely modified Skorne (str/dex/wil got swapped for bod/ref/mox), and FKR thinking. WizLiz's character was Zardoz, a low down paranoid punk in a trenchcoat with 4 hits, a 3d-printed pistol, and a brain linked drone. Accompanying him were two fellow punks Tom and Chelsea, similarly equipped (except for Tom who had one grenade). The scenario was a simple meet and trade of some non-gmo seeds that were stolen from Uber-Santo, a calory-company with a stranglehold on foodstuffs. Of course it went horribly wrong....
 
***

It was late at night in the Noreaster Megalapolis and a storm was blowing in. The streets were already half-flooded with scummy water and through the sheets of rain the sea-wall's red eyes blinked on and off.

Zardoz, alongside his fellow cyborgedpunks Chelsae and Tom were crammed into their shitty little car, parked somewhere in the recesses of the old port district down below the sea-wall, among the looming concrete warehouses. It had been a difficult drive through the ankle deep floodwaters and for a week they'd been feeling the heat of the calory-companies for the packet of gmo-free seeds they'd stolen. Which is why they'd arranged a meeting to sell them off with a certain De Graaf, a gangster of ill repute.

They had the address and decided to show up early, parking the car in an alley across the street from the warehouse. Chelsae nervously played a digital game while Tom slicked back his hair, and Zardoz stews in mix of pills and muted frustration.

Settling in for some reconnaissance , Zardoz pops out his little brain-linked drone and sends it out into the rain to do a bit of preliminary scouting. A brief look in infrared tells him that the buildings still a tad busy this time of night, light leaking out of the shuttered windows. An attempt is made to fly the drone in through a ventilation shaft but the rain and thick walls cut the signal (failed a moxy roll) and the drone returns on auto-pilot.

Zardoz mutters to themself and notes the old cctv cameras on the place then settles in to wait for the pre-scheduled time. 

Map of the warehouse

The waiting ticks on and Zardoz is just about ready to get up and drag Tom and Chelsea in early when a silvery SUV comes splashing out of the night and pulls up in front of the warehouse. Five figures in suits and raincoats hop out, two dashing inside through the main entrance, and the other three briefly staying outside to attach something to the wall, then going in leaving one reaming standing guard over the door. Presumably the mafiosos had arrived.

Zardoz, with some colorful language, tells Tom to check out the SUV while he and Chelsea saunter up to the door. They all hop out of the car into the pouring rain, and jog across the street. As they approach the raincoated guard goon's hand briefly strays to a bulk under his coat, but Zardoz belts out the password and he gestures them inside. Zardoz stalls for a moment with some excuses about arriving early but not wanting to scare them, in order to gauge the situation. Tom's glance into the SUV reveals its empty and he surreptitiously rejoins the other two. As well, a glance to what the goons had been attaching reveals a camera-jacking unit, the kind burglars use to setup an impromptu warning system using a place's own security.

Zardoz is feeling mighty paranoid and fingers his gun as they pass the guard goon.

Inside they tromp through a dingy reception room, down a hall, and into a cubicle filled office space. A lone late night worker scampers away after the guard-goon gives a glare, and the trio are shepherded into a tiny little conference room (upper left hand, pink dot).

Inside, sitting at the table end closest to the door, was De Graaf, a smiling dutchman in an art-deco suit, with a little mustache and a colorful brain-cartridge showing behind the ear. Next to him, a reedy, officious looking youth in a too-big trenchcoat covered in faded patches whose clutching a duffel bag to their lap. Behind De Graaf stand two goons, near twins to the doorman.

De Graaf smiled sleazily as they entered and beckoned them to sit. Met by  Zardoz giving him the evil eye, before he sits and beckons Chelsea and Tom to as well. De Graaf begins to welcome them with a beaming smile only to be cut off by a rather rudely worded "lets get down to business" from Zardoz. He sours, but regains his composure and does indeed get to business, gesturing for the youth and saying "Busara, this is your deal, will you be a dear and show them the money." To which the youth obliges, unzipping the duffel bag and tilting it to reveal the rubber-banded cash wads within.

Zardoz wishes he had taken his meds. Then asks Tom to pass them the packet, is corrected that he's the one with the packet, and produces it from his coat. The kid looks ready to hand the cash over there and then but De Graaf politely asks for a sample. Zardoz wrestles a single seed out and holds it up. But before anyone can do anything one of the goons (who has opaque eyes) behind De Graaf starts cursing.

Everyone suddenly realizes their wi-fi connection is down, no signal. Somethings jamming the building. De Graaf's smile vanishes. The kid looks nervous. Chelsea curses something. A snatch is heard of the opaque-eyed goons frantic whispering "cameras are down" and De Graaf hisses a challenge, "Did you sells us out you fuckers" the kid is eyeing the seeds and the goons hands are straying into their coats.

Zardoz screams "YOU MOTHERFUCKER YOU CALLING ME A SNITCH" and whips out their shitty little 3d-printed pistol to shoot De Graaf there and then. The situation has escalated so rapidly that De Graaf doesn't get a chance to respond as Zardoz caps him in the neck and torso, jerking the mafioso back in his chair as blood splatters on the wall and goons behind him. Dead.

The goons have whipped out their pistols, sleek metal deals and open fire on the trio. Chelsea had already hit the floor, but Tom and Zardoz get the choice to shoot back (and suffer 2 hits) or dive beneath the table.

Zardoz flashes back to their time "training" with Tom in their shared living room "if things go to shit Tomy, what do we do?" "we de-escalate?" slap "no, Tomy, we blow shit up"

As they dive under the table Tom chucks his lone grenade, and they hear it clunk, thump and bounce towards the goon's end. Zardoz belatedly realized they didn't grab the seed pouch. And then the grenade goes off.

Deafened. The table splits under the explosion. A shard of wood buries itself in Zardoz's arm (-1 hit). Chelsea's curled in a ball. And Tom's panting. The two goons and the kid two are dead, slumped against the walls with the ruins of the table before them, faces and torsos torn up by shrapnel (made a luck roll for each, and all came out bad).

The seedpacket was blown to smithereens but some of the money and duffel bag managed to survive (luck roll bad, luck roll good), fluttering around in the air. Zardoz starts grabbing wads of cash. The door had been blown off its hinges, and the guard-goon was lying groaning a little ways away. He starts struggling to his feet. Zardoz yells for Tom, who stumbles to the door way pistol drawn.

Not fast enough unfortunately (failed opposed reflex roll), the goon outside had struggled to his feet and whipped out an uzi which he promptly sprayed through the doorway into the room catching Tom square on (-3 hits). Tom topples back into the ruins of the table bleeding from slugs lodged in his torso, thigh, arms.

Zardoz curses and dives for the door, unloading his entire pistol at the goon till the plastic frame melts. The goon screams as his legs are hit (-2 hits) and he crumples to his belly again. He sends a few wild shots, but Zardoz is hiding behind the door frame. Tossing his melted pistol aside, Zardoz dashes over to the other side of the table ruins and loots the dead goons metal pistols.

She yells to ask if Chelsea had gathered the money, only to find she's not listening at all but yelling in air the way people do when talking over head-comms. Without a moments hesitation Zardoz shoots Chelsea dead watching as she crumples with bullets through her jaw, brain and lungs. Zardoz crawls over, searching the body frantically.

"Tom, Chelsea was a fucking rat"
"Oh wait, you're dead"
Moans of protestation from the not yet dead Tom.

He finds a suspicious wad of cash, and a business card that says "special manager" and a phone number on it. Shoves both in their pocket, then glances over the ruined table. The goon outside has been crawling on his belly towards the door, leaving a smear of blood on the floor. He lifts his uzi up too shoot, but Zardoz ducks down again into cover.

Thinking fast, he props Chelseas dead body up and uses the corpse as a meat shield, popping up without warning. The goon panics and unloads his uzi, most of the shots sink into the corpse (armour 2) but a stray bullet catches Zardoz in the shoulder (-1 hit). Fortunately Zardoz's own fire makes short work of the goon, ending him for good.

Zardoz is crying, and whips their nose on their arm shoving the last of the cash into the duffel bag. Distantly they hear the sound of tramping foot and banging doors coming from the main entrance. He grabs the duffel bag and books it, leaving Tom for dead.

Zardoz makes a run for it through the cubicles, and exists south just as figures in black armour burst into the office space and head for the conference room. As they run down the hallway they briefly pass the late-night worker from earlier, cowering in an office. Asking for directions, the worker points southward. Zardoz continues on but darts into one of the rooms along this hall and angles for one of the narrow windows.

He chucks the duffel bag through and start carefully squeezing out, almost dislocating his already injured shoulder, halfway through and nearly stuck they hear the tread of boots from the south, and manage to squeeze out landing on a dumpster in the alley behind the warehouse just in time to hear the room's door kicked in and weird garbled radio noises.

Zardoz sneaks northward through the rain down the alley, heading for their car, and ends up out in calf-deep floodwater creeping along the northside of the building. Peering out onto the road between him and the alley with his car. There is a black APC parked, with two black clad uber-santo paralegals toting smg's guarding it (and the front entrance of the warehouse) standing next to them is a severe woman in an executive suit and mirrorshades with a translucent umbrella, intently fixated on her PDA.

Zardoz uses their drone to create a diversion, flying the poor little thing through the rain and past the paralegals, before turning its little speakers to full blast and playing music. The corpos all turn, and he makes a dash across the street, easily concealed by the pounding rain. As he runs he hears a burst of automatic fire and (failed a luck roll) the brave little drone dies in a fiery pop.

Safe in the alley, Zardoz crams himself into their shitty little car and starts the engine up, luckily the rain masked its starting, and carefully backs down the alley and out the opposite side.

Zardoz drives away into the rain, taking a hit of some hypno-air and calling up Mannie their contact, to tell them everything went to shit.

And then, to quote the player....
""....and then I drive with no destination, just for the sake of it, and my hands are shaking and I'm biting my lower lip so hard it's bleeding
And I stare at this massive ad in the distance of some kind of playboy millionaire chilling on a real beach at the sea and it says "THIS COULD BE YOU"
so I don't see the truck
End scene"
 
***
 
All together a very good one shot.

Tuesday, October 4, 2022

How I Run Diceless Violence

I enjoy using Hits, their simple and effective lending themselves well to decisive combat with clear stakes. Generally I give player characters 4-6 hits (depending on the degree of grittiness) and have 2-3 hits as the "base damage" from blades and simple weapons or so such.

Hits are an ongoing event, not a thing you Have. It's an abstraction to tell you what sort of effect to expect. It's more about showing the effect violence will have, rather than an individuals resistance to it.

Conversely you can treat hits more traditionally, as dramatic points of saving grace, if you were so inclined. I would argue however, it is easy to give a bit more cinema to fight simply by upping the number of hits (as Skorne does) while keeping their impact. A more horror-violence approach, would use less and place more cost onto actions. To do something will cost something, to do nothing will cost more.

***

The "I pick, you choose method"* where one side declares their intent and the opposite decides whether to let it succeed or take exchange damage. With the small margins that Hits give a player this becomes a very attractive bargain. And vice versa for npcs, monsters, and so forth. 

Riffing off this we come to more general dilemmas, "suffer hits" becomes an easy mechanisms of imposing costs onto choices. I personally mix it up between pick and choose and entirely player facing costs.

Example :

Margot is brawling with a guard. She has the option to take 2 hits, while giving none, but ensuring the opponent is pinned down and takes it; wrestling the guard to the floor despite his slashing knife...
 
Example :

While dueling a pig-man, Lot is charged and given the option of taking 3 hits, or getting bowled over the parapet edge onto a nearby roof, and out of the fight. Lot chooses his own skin over blocking the walkway and takes the tumble...

Two men are wrestling on a bridge as one of them holds a knife and the other is bleeding

Don't think of fights happening in discrete segments, like a turn-based video game's trade of blows, actions flow into and from one another; momentum and weight matter. The previous positioning informs further actions and positioning.

Example :

The dragon slams Jorge into the ground, knocking the wind from him and crushing ribs (-3 hits), he drives his sword into the wyrm's leg as it pushes down, and the wound makes the dragon recoil (-2 hits),dangling Jorge in the air as he holds onto his sword...
 
Alternatively fights can be abstracted out, hits taken can be elaborated into broader pushes and retreats or the tallied results of a dust-cloud obscured brawl. Likewise time can be stretched and contracted as needed.

Example :

Pent and their hirelings held the line against the grub-dog onslaught suffering 2 hits each in the process, while Maureen cut her way to the capstan, taking 1 hit, and released it, dropping the gate closed...
 
Note also how in the previous example a numerically superior enemy is treated more as an environmental hazard than as discrete individuals. 'Blobification' of monsters and npcs (friendly or hostile) is a useful tool. For visual reference consider Kurosawa film where large groups move as one, and repeat emotions and movements for larger impact.

When running proper blob on blob violence; that is, unit skirmishes; said 'blobs' or detachments, to steal a turn of phrase from Into the Odd, can be assigned with stats as an individual. Maneuvers for units should be broader and more basic, retreats, pushes, and holds mainly. Consider morale heavily, when units break (at 0 hits perhaps), and so forth. A handy way of handling large scale fights is to treat them as series of decisive clashes, punctuated by retreats, regrouping, and repositioning.

Example :

Holland holds the road with his spear armed villagers against the mercenaries, the two groups collide and the villagers fall back having suffered a whopping 4 hits, but held firm thanks to Holland's exhortations. They retreat behind the nearby stonewall, and Calliope's villagers ambush the pursuing mercenaries, bloodying their noses (-1 hit) and sending them back onto the road...
 
Individuals in mass combat, unless targeted, can come out suffering a lesser form of whatever was inflicted on the detachment. So an individual fighting in a shattered unit might come out with musket ball through the leg and bleeding from a head wound. But a character fighting with a lightly scuffed unit may come out perfectly hale.  

Hits should renew frequently with rest, in fact it may be best to have them automatically renew any time there is an interval between fights. Rely instead on injuries and effects to have lasting consequence and inform future conflicts. A grievous leg injury, for example, would effect a fight.
 
This is of course suited for a grittier aesthetic approach.
 

Saturday, September 24, 2022

Gnolls

Born of rapacious destruction. To feast on manflesh prepared by a gnoll is to become one. They grow the heads of hyenas to better reflect their nature. 
 
Gnolls may be found anywhere war scorches the earth and freely ally themselves to those that would supply them with plunder and prey, turning to brigandage and reaving in times of peace.

Wish I could find a better quality version

Gnolls - 2d12
1 HD; Muskets, polearms, & swords; AC as leather; boisterous & cruel
  • Take strength in their large numbers
  • Covet finery, dress gaudily
  • Habitual cannibals
  • Prefer to attack the defenseless

Friday, September 16, 2022

Thats No Castle!

1d4 alternatives to castles for when you need a fortification up on that hill.

1. Tax House 
A fortified storehouse and bureaucratic center where taxes paid in local bulk goods (such as cloth, or salt) are collected, tallied, and made ready for transport. Could have a small garrison, or just a handful of sword/gun toting officials.

2. Agadir 
A sort of collective fortified granary, with individual chambers for different local families. Built as a citadel usually on elevated, rocky positions to protect surrounding farmland. Often used to store other valuable such as deeds, records, jewelry, clothes, carpets, and so on.

3. Signal Tower
Either optical semaphore or a classic pyre. Built high up with good lines of sight. Minimum garrison, and lightly fortified. Might double as a lookout and base for scouting parties. Of a similar vein, a relay or post station with stables of fresh horses and a cantina for tired messengers. 

4. Monastery (abbey) 
Big, isolated, and well-built religious compound. The monks likely own a significant amount of local land which they work themselves or rent to tenant farmers. Poorly defended with a lot of valuables.
 
Illustrated Heading with Castle

Sunday, August 21, 2022

The Arcane Gang

A pack of spell-slinging sorcerers, rival adventurers on the hunt for gold and magic. They are a bickering, loosely allied lot.

Members :

 
Avaricia
An albino teifling with burning red eyes, sharp, straight horns and pearly chitin hidden beneath a fashionable coat. She laughs as she cuts men to ribbons with coldly-flaming sword. Hot blooded and arrogant to a fault.
  • Her familiar, Superbia, a fiendish raven, taunts and harries opponents.
  • She carries rune-stamped sidesword and matching parrying dagger.
  • Her spellbook contains : Flesh to Glass, Mind to Glass, Transfer Wound

Zune
A pallid, waxy man. Sickly thin under his oversized red-paneled, black greatcoat. Forever hunched. He is a simulacrum of his original self (burned at the stake for illegal warlockery). Seeks a cure for his degenerating body.
  • Accompanied by a stoic wight bodyguard wielding a massive greatsword.
  • Oft hides his and his compatriots movements or appearance behind illusions.
  • His several spellbooks contain : Pyrotechnics, Knock/Seal, Inflict Hemophilia, Raise Slab, Apport

Netty Lank
Nervous ex-apprentice of a diviner's guild, thrown out into the street in disgrace. Plots childish revenge day and night, but keeps to herself, simmering quietly. Her scrying is roughshod, serviceable. 
  • Her familiar is a cunning weasel well versed in sneaking and thieving.
  • Astral projects from her body, appearing as a ghostly visage, to spy from afar.
  • Her spellbook contains : Reveal False Futures

Verona Harper
Grey-haired, aging, and haughty as the scion of an infamous merchant family can be. She hides her hand tremors underneath fur-lined sleeves. Wholeheartedly believes herself leader, to Avaricia's derision.
  • While stabbed into your spine her iron-nails let her puppeteer you. 
  • Currently she puppets four fishermen, a tailor, and a tiger.
  • Her spellbook contains : Bind Name, Bottle Soul
 
*******

It shouldn't be too hard but points if you can tell from where I distilled these characters from. I found the original versions rather lacking in coherent aesthetics for each, and not even working together in a team full of cracks for players to exploit!! So I revised them.

Friday, August 19, 2022

Tomb Robbers Of The Crystal Frontier - Review

Some might say that the unique setting proves detriment to a dungeons utility as a generic or learning dungeon. This might be the case, however Gus L's Crystal Frontiers setting walks the perfect line between vanilla and weird to make it work.


TOMB ROBBERS OF THE CRYSTAL FRONTIER

Aesthetics

Perhaps my favorite part, its a superb science-fantasy wild west with swaggering duel-happy lansquenets and scurrilous crystal prospector. Its Weird but with all the familiar tropes so that you grasp its essence in an instant And gosh does Gus's art support the vibe. Just look at the cover, its gorgeous. The book as it is slots, somewhat subtly, into the wider world of Gus's 'Fallen Empire' but can be easily used separately.

The fonts are a delight whilst still being readable and the book is stocked with plentiful illustrations that both codify its aesthetic and provide reference for npcs, monsters, locales, and features. 

Also I just adore the colors, their so fun!!

Layout & Tools

The information presentation is, to put it mildly, excellent. 

Room keys are formatted so they lead with a brief at-a-glance description featuring bolded lines for key details. These bolded lines refer to expounded upon sub-sections that describe the key features (being those bolded key details) more closely. It flows smoothly as you read, and makes for easy reference and skimming. Perhaps not as easy skimming as full bullet point keying ala Into the Odd's Iron Coral dungeon, however the denser text offers more detail that would otherwise be left out (or left to be inferred/invented) in the bullet point method.

When it comes to the mapping, all is done by Gus's own hand matching the rest of the books art. Clear and readable but not without style. In addition to the main isometric and top down maps (yes there's both) each 'section' of room keys has a relevant snippet of the main map, handily cutting down on page flipping. More dungeons should do this.

Furthermore, in the appendix a blank player map, and a referee map keyed with treasures and details right on the map are provided. Really this book has bountiful resources for rendering running a breeze. There's even a bevy of turn/torch tracker sheets, faction relation tracker sheets, and so on in the very well stocked appendices.

Content 

Tomb is an excellent learning dungeon, up their along Tomb of the Serpent Kings or Lair of the Lamb and other classics of recent years....

A couple of the traps were hard to parse even on rereading (the prism tomb particularly) however the book goes out of its way to diagram things and includes advice columns for nearly every notable feature explaining the decisions put into it. 
 
All of the dungeons features are highly interact-able and offer great potential for creative problem solving and shenaniganry on player's parts. Furthermore, the dungeon very nicely handles its danger such that players can always accidentally or intentionally trod right into the middle of things yet the more dangerous elements are also secreted further back in the dungeon so work must be put into reaching them.

Speaking of those elements, Tomb Robbers handles its stocking excellently with a mix of dumb monsters, problem solving monsters, faction monsters, boss monsters, and so forth and so on. Consistently providing advice for how to run each.

Truly the advice columns are one of the best part's of the module. They are succinct, clear, and are of immense assistance to new referees running the dungeon. RPG texts that take the time to explaining their reasoning and offer guidance are unfortunately not as common as I wish they were, which makes Tomb Robbers a delight.

In addition to the dungeon proper, the book includes a short section on Scarlet Town, packed with enough hooks and details to easily facilitate play there with no further prep of the Referee's own if they should so choose. Or easily providing a starting off point to expand and explore the Crystal Frontier. 
 
If I'm quite honest Scarlet Town was one of my favorite parts even in proportion to the rest of the dungeon. I'm a sucker for the rough and rowdy pseudo-western setting being sold here.   

And the appendices!! These go the extra leg and expand on magic items, spells, monsters, and setting elements. As well as end-case scenarios for different elements of the dungeon (what if so-and-so monster escapes, and so on). The aforementioned Scarlet Town of course, and the aforementioned referee tools. The crowning section of the whole book. 
 
Also there's a wandering arcanovoric owlbear and I love Gus's take on owlbears so much. Its just great.


THE BROKEN BASTION

The layout here is still quite excellent, though the very long vertical text blocks are tad hard to parse, they break up the long paragraphs in an odd way I find. It gets much better in the keying proper however where the sub-sections break it up.
 
The blocks of advice are killer, as much as they were in Tomb Robbers.

A very dense dungeon, both in information presentation and moving-dungeon-parts for space. Numerous interact-able components are provided for players to mess with, and numerous creatures and monsters to interfere with their exploration. Special movement procedure suggestions. Traps, treasures, and arcane technology.

I confess that I had a trickier time 'holding it all in my head' for this dungeon's content than I did with Tomb Robbers. I cannot place quite why, but I suspect the density of text and features as it related to the layout which was more cramped than with Tomb. However, it is a very flavorful, and well put together dungeon.
 
Like with Tomb, there is an appendix for treasure (of the magical sort) which is very handy. 


THE STAR SPIRE

An excellent lil dungeon, easily slotted into a game when in need of a small one session (or even half-session) dungeon. It would be fairly easy to reskin while keeping its essential character too
 
It does feel a tad sparse when it comes to interact-able elements in the dungeon proper, which makes the module feel more appropriate for players who've gone through a dungeon or two already and have acquired some tools or tricks that they bring with them (or perhaps for a game where they start with some 'problem solving potential' items). However, it is a short dungeon so you can't really hold that against it. 
 
The approaching rival treasure-hunters provide a nice threat and social encounter to be navigated and are, along with the automaton, the real meat of the module in terms of play (I suspect, having yet to run it, I certainly plan to however).

The lil isometric map is wonderful and utilitous. 
 
In terms of layout it has all of the same qualities previously mentioned, but more compact. Also in my copy the lettering seems a bit squished latterly? That could just be a result of my computer however.  


THE BRUJA, THE BEAST, AND THE BARROW

For a short four pages a lot is packed in here. 
 
Firstly, both the palette and dungeon itself are delightful variations from what has previously been provided in the form of a more traditional tomb complex, yet still tying into the rest of the region's wild west science fantasy airs. In particular subtle details are seeded pertaining to the titular bruja and beast that tie into another portion of the setting previously only mentioned in vague snippets. I enjoyed the greek hoplite theming for the tomb, an underutilized aesthetic.
 
The tomb as a whole presents an open ended situation of simple two-sided (or three if you count the players, perhaps four if you count the dungeon itself) factional relations. Marble-Eyes the sorcerer is a compelling npc and a good potential low-level ally to players (and potentially a fun low level antagonist as well). The beast boasts and lies and is formidable opponent but also one who players control if they interact with.

The dungeon itself is the perfect size for a session's worth of play, mostly linear with one branch, decent treasure (including some interesting magic items), and an two-three points of open-ended problem solving.


******
 
And there you have it. Tomb Robbers of the Crystal Frontier can be purchased here along with the rest of Gus's Crystal Frontier products (and much else besides). Gus's current blog can be found here, containing much sagely advice as well as play reports from running Tomb Robbers.
 
(sorry I took so long writing these reviews Gus :p )

Friday, August 5, 2022

Black Books : Extended Catalog


More black books to add to your collection.

Parable Of The Insurer 
The extant copies of a late 17th century chapbook detailing the tale of a scurrilous purveyor of maritime insurance who refuses to pay out to the owner of a "black galley" who lost his cargo fighting "frog-men off the yellow moons." The shipowner then subjects the steadfast insurer to serious of threats and torments till he caves and quits the business to go live as a monk. The exact moral is unclear. 

The Devil's Dress
An account of a Parisian seamstresses dream-voyages to hell at behest of Asmodeus himself in order to fashion him a proper suit for the upcoming "pandemonium." Detailed description is made of various demonic fashions and their manufacture with an ethnographic degree of seriousness.

Fragment I-IX (The Los Angeles Rosetta)
A collection of clay tablets found buried in a backyard during excavations for an outdoor pool. They contain matched writing in archaic Spanish and an unknown language of stamped ovaloid orthography. The text itself is a missive bidding the recipient to burn their ships, hide their tools, and ready the new "converts" for battle. 

The Speculographer's Atlas
An atlas of speculative, imaginary, and mythic cities, their locations, and methods of reaching them. The oldest probable copy is dated to the 11th century under the title "Urbes Secreta" or the Secret Cities, however no know extent copy survives. Over the centuries numerous copied, annotated, and revised editions have emerged, been lost, destroyed, and on. Barring the Neo-Delvers Digest there are few other living occult texts of such extent.While the 1975 edition is easily accessible, prospective occultists are cautioned against it for many of its entries are outdated, false, or mistranslated.

Descent Into The Anti-City
An epistolary novel, told through journal entries and communiques, recounting the expedition of Captain Leroy Fitzgerald of the Unite States Engineer Corp into unidentified structural works beneath an unnamed metropolitan area. The narration eventually devolves into increasingly verbose description of the architectural un-realities. Widely panned by critics for purple prose, obtuseness and abrupt ending. 

How To Build A Dog!
An illustrated children's book, originally published in French, describing in detail how to construct a dog from the "essential saltes of the earth." Listed as suitable for ages 10-12. Briefly hit bestseller lists before being pulled from shelves after parental complaints. 

Snead's 110 
A list of 110 esoteric books for auction, reproduction, or print from the infamous Snead's of London. It has been reprinted numerous times since the 1781 fire which killed Mister Snead and subsequently ended the firm. Lost listings such as "The Vicar's Methods" are commonly hunted for and the subject of legend in occult book circles. 

The Ballistic Gospel
A heretical manuscript compelled from the journal of a 16th century Spanish artilleryman which elevates Saint Barbara from martyr to the true aspect of god. It foretells an apocalypse to come with weapons undreamt of and "mighty rockets which shall unleash dreadful ever-burning balefire." A fairly standard pre-modern prophetization of nuclear war.