Monday, February 22, 2021

Slushpost Mark. 4

Yet again the miscellany returns, of varying quality...
  1. On occasion Yakhchāls will accidentally trap wind spirits in the ice they create, if they remain too long they will become angry and twisted, ice-wind demons that will burst forth with a cutting hurricane of ice shards.
  2. A land of rolling grassy hills littered with roughly carved stone figures, nearly human like, the locals say they are the failed first humans carved by the original gods.
  3. Lamps of different colors which burn different metals, 'specially made to bind, blind, and block spirits of various sorts. 
  4. Whispering Galleries are special elliptic rooms under domes where if you stand at focus anything whispers by someone in the other focus can be clearly heard no matter the size of the room.
  5. Sunflowers sucking up radioactive errata from the soil and blossoming in beautifully irradiated blooms. Collected by nuclear-sorcerers for their magic.
  6. Small toads or frogs which when squeezed glow with light, caught for use as emergency lamps.
  7. Hand cannons, the muzzles shaped like flowers, belching forth blossoms of flame and fire.
  8. Pipestuff (noun) - any of the various leafs, herbs, or such items that are smoked in a pipe, can refer to anything from cannabis to tobacco to sumac.
  9. Three classes for a game focused on crime Thug, Thief, Face.
  10. Gotta pay my eel-rent.
  11. Three stats, WACK, THWACK, and KNACK.
  12. The mythical Smeerenburg as a pan-dimensional half real whaling city that emerges from the sea mists and ice in the far north of worlds. You can buy the parts of strange leviathans and meet all manner of universe hopping whaler persons there.
  13. A giant cursed samovar that acts like a brazen bull, boiling people alive into tea. You drink their suffering.
  14. Jug is a good word. Needs more use.
  15. Barrel Pillories
  16. Giant shrimp carapaces flipped over and used for canoes.
  17. Screw air, who needs air as an element. It's just a thin liquid anyhow. Earth, Fire Water, not there's a nice trio.
  18. Related to above, they're three parts to a human, the soul or spirit, tied to fire, the body or flesh, tied to earth, and the essence or blood, tied to water. Each can be cultivated and manipulated in certain ways to get really good at various kinds of magic/martial abilities. 
  19. Thought - Soil does not fall under the domain of earth or stone elementals, being composed more of living things than inanimate matter.
  20. An endless viaduct-esq megastructure stretching on forever over an island-less ocean, a bastion of settlement sits upon it, houses stacked one upon each other crammed in for space, the Empire of the Long Road. Beyond its borders are the wild road jungles and deserted grassland stretches.
  21. Sabre swinging motorcycle calvary.
  23. A magnetic mountain. Compass needles point to it. Its ore clings to picks and blades. An important cosmological feature for many local cultures. But what lies at its core...?
  24. Ship-priests of the Ea-ket school hold that one most make offerings to every component spirit of a ship, the radiator spirits, the plumbing spirits, the hull spirits, in order to ensure a whole and healthy vessel. This is decried as bunk by ship-priests of the Bepho school who hold that a ship is in fact a single spirit and that giving offerings to individual parts would be a bit like praying to your leg.
  25. Why don't more fantasy cities have firefighters as a faction? Considering how historically fire brigades have been rife with corruption and extortion they should make for fantastic game material.
  26. Dentologist teeth wizards who study a persons teeth to learn things about them, like phrenology but with teeth (since you can learn so many things about diet and thus occupation and such but taken to an extreme degree). Oft work for the government. Distrusted and disliked.
  27. Ketchup is an evolutionary descendant of fish-sauce. This feels useful for a game... somehow...
  28. Pteronura the vicious but playful mangrove Otter God who perpetually fights Big Moses the crocodilian god of the swamp.
  29. Pan-dimensional raiders in hovering silver skiffs, bolt-action rifles loaded with demon-bullets, maille glittering with dweomer, biomantic breathing organs clinging to faces. They sally forth through tears in reality.
  30. Ink spirits, like little cheerful blobs, can be talked into doing all manner of clever things concerning writing.
  31. Ecosystem scientist-priests charged with keeping watch over a habitats genetic stock.
  32. City hermits that live in little box houses on roof peaks. Tend pigeon flocks and contemplate philosophy and/or get in passionate arguments with neighboring hermits. Particularly prestigious homes hire their own hermits to maintain an air of wisdom about the place.
  33. Lampreys are underutilized.
  34. Boltlock (also: bolt-lock) (noun) - being the term for a bolt action firearm, usually a rifle.
  35. Negative space handprint as symbol of humanity.
  36. If one stays in the Fae realm too long you begin to sweat the iron in your blood out as little nuggets.
  37. A chestnut box, inside is a set of silver instruments, hook and looped shaped, tucked in cloth partitions. A paperback book titled "Catalogue Of Para-Dimensional Phenomena" is tucked underneath the tools.
  38. Door-Paste, you squeeze it out in the shape of a door and it makes one, it's temporary however.
  39. Skinchangers who literally climb into empty stolen skins, their actually bodies are all muscle and sinew.
  40. War-mages keep their rolled up spell-scrolls in apostle bandoleers.
  41. A thick aired coffeehouse smelling of roasting, an ancient woman with hair like shining steel wire plays mancala in a wall cubby. Her opponent is an equally ancient combat drone, all armour, servos, and faded military fatigues. The woman is winning.
  42. The fashionable young men of Uller-Kem like to dress their hair in coifs and curls, and wear dangly earrings of blue river stone to catch each others eyes. 
  43. A rogue auto-fac, devouring the landscape in a hell of machinery and production, belching fumes and smoke, it expands bigger everyday.
  44. Monks carefully building an analog computer out of stones upon a mountain plateau. An unbelievably compelx and ancient calculation is underway.
  45. A volcanic land rich in crops and guns but small and precarious, constantly lives in fear of the octopus lava god whom they placate and control with offerings pillaged from the lowland kingdoms.
  46. Soap spirit are dangerously caustic and will just as eagerly break down your cell wells as much as mold and microbes. Easily put to work however at the tasks they enjoy.
  47. An assassin tune, catchy enough to be passed along, and to be sung absent-mindedly, always contains lyrics suggestive of the target, if the target sings it their heart seizes and they die.
  48. The Courtesan's Guild runs the bathhouses round these parts, and though they are a guild for sex workers they are far more famed for their soup which is purported to rival the ambrosia of the gods themselves.
  49. The Bonesnappers, they want to break and bend and snap and crack your bones and slurp up the tasty marrow inside. Easily bribed.
  50. A tiny traveling fashion show and catalogue with all the latest styles from the capitol exhibited on tiny micro-mannequin doll-miniatures.
  51. What if puddles formed right after it rained opened up, infinitely deep, into a puddle dimension.
  52. Ballooning Spider Pirates pillaging the airways.
  53. Alignment ala the cosmic forces style but its the color wheel. 
  54. A demon-moose goddess haunts the towering woods, the fearful townsfolk sacrifice their most unwanted children to her. She does not eat them. Instead they become her servants and foundling children. They grow strange and proud under their mother's charge. Some wish to venture into the the outside world, others wish vengeance on their former parents.
  55. Society where once past menopause your gender changes.
  56. The Smirch and Davie his hireling/sitting post/mobile table. A dynamic and wizardly duo that one can find wandering the thicket covered hills. Always have tea ready. 
  57. Cludny of Ummar the warlord saint who split the very sea in two, in order to conquer the coral folk.
  58. Priests of Vision, stylized eyes tattooed up and down their arms, legs, torso, face, and all. Seek to build a cosmic panopticon so that all may be Viewed.
  59. The Fifth Assemblage of the Imminent Plurality.
  60. Dwarves are now big tardigrades, elves are fungus, halflings are big jumping spiders and humans are humans still. Now someone go and make something with this.

Saturday, February 13, 2021

Threeway Picture Pong #2

The counter salvos has been launched! From Nothic's Eye we receive thus...

The finest establishment to roam the desert wastes, a place of rest and relaxation (for those with the cash to afford it) where one can kick back, refill their canteen, and sun themselves on the pool deck. All sorts from across the desert mingle here, but don't make trouble! Big Tam might thrash you herself if her cyborg-baboon goons don't finish you off first. Some current visitors to Big Tam's are.... The Illustrious Warlord Boss Bellos whose parked his seaplane and taken over the first class suite.... Mandy & Mindy the news'copter twins with their heavy camera equipment setup up on the Mezzanine, pestering Big Tam for interviews... and Petor the Demolisher, with his rather dangerous cargo of explosives, who has been regulated to the lower decks.

And from the Velvet Inks this mysterious entourage has arrived...

They come                                            Whence they came?
        They come they come
Bearers masks fluters drummers pole holders                                            They come
                               To extract?                                To take?                                                        To kill?
                                                    Thieves                                        Liars                            Murderers
                    Do not look them in there not-eyes                    Do not!
    Give them your honey, your grain, your bullets, your cinders                    Do not refuse!
                                                                                                            They will take! Take!        Animals
              They burn as they come                                                                              Homes      Children
The land crisps and turns to ash                ash and cinders            they love the fire and finery
                            give them what they want                Give them
                                                        And hope they don't return

And now for The Nothic's Eye's new nemesis...

And for Velvet Ink's as well...

Friday, February 12, 2021

Big Bundle Of Setting Questions & Such

Firstly, the 13 Items World but for my setting I do not have a name for yet...
  1. Blue-grey moonsilk parasol.
  2. Boltlock rifle, chipped and scratched, tied with prayer scarves and charms, the gun-spirit is old and grumpy, hates the black powder & paper cartridges that foul itself.
  3. Oily rainbow rock of ancient compressed plastics.
  4. Duelling sabre in an eel-leather scabbard. 
  5. A gilded sub-machine gun, the nearly scratched out makers mark places it as once belonging to the Serpent King's Secret Police. It's gun-spirit is young, spoiled, and energetic.
  6. A Samovar, made of brass, accompanied by bricks of tea and bags of coffee.
  7. Several stick grenades.
  8. Bio-mantic organ sacks, squishy and highly valuable.
  9. A penny-pamphlet adventure novel set among the "exotic" Boatlords of the Zum Delta.
  10. Helmet & splatter mask with a mail veil, decorated with apotropaic eyes.
  11. Bathhouse token tied to a dues letter from the Courtesans Union.
  12. Perfumes & lip-paint in little tins.
  13. A pyramidal prism, containing an insightful machine-spirit, taken off a sorcerer's corpse.
Next, answering Locheil's setting questions for the same yet-to-be-named setting...

1. Which specific NPC do I want to piss of the least?
        The Lady of the Blue Spire who controls the Hierophant and its great machine-spirit. Tangling with her and her vast network of bureaucrat-sorcerers is not recommended.

2. Which god should I want to piss off the most?
        Perhaps the Orbital War Gods? It does take some effort to make them properly angry. But if you manage you might be able to trick them into blowing up a mountain range or city you don't like.

3. What's the worst thing I could meet at a crossroads?
        Probably a devil's incarnation offering you tantalizing contracts, for an arguable definition of 'worst'.

4. What's the nearest thing that can utterly destroy me to your starting town? Or starting town equivalent?
        Oh there is a lot of stuff. Ancient Auto-Machine Basilisks, thunderheads full of Lightning Wyrms, raiding party of Lunar Fae, pack of gun toting Baboons. The list goes on.

5. Is apotheosis open to my character? If not, why not?
        Oh heck yes and in so many ways. Plug yourself into oldtech machinery, make a deal with an alien godling, abscond off into trans-dimensional space. So many options.

6. Do people in your world have souls? Why?
        Sort of? It's complicated and there's much debate on the subject. Suffice to say people have got something that can be hijacked, stolen, used as legal tender with some para-dimensional beings, and bound to artificial bodies to achieve immortality. 

7. Does jazz exist in your setting yet? Can I invent it and not be stoned to death?
        Yes it does (of a sort) but only in the big Industrial Cities where they can afford to make the instruments. 

8. What's the weirdest country/polity/region/area on your map?
        Most places are pretty dang weird, but the giant space elevator is pretty weird even by the local's standards. There's also the Glass Desert which as the name suggests is all glassy sand and half-melted cities haunted by immortals kept alive with arcano-tech machinery.

9. Do guns exist yet? If they do, is there anything making them weird/different?
        They most certainly exist! Gun-spirits mainly are what distinguishes them. That and a tendency towards ornamentation.

10. Is there a divide between mundane/magical animals?
        Not really, some animals just do weird stuff. Others don't. Sometimes animals that don't do, do do weird stuff for reasons.

Gael Bertrand

Tuesday, February 9, 2021


Thus begins the epic threeway picture pong between me, Nothics Eye and Velvet Inks. I shall start with the images that I must answer.

Taken circa 43 EG by an anonymous SmuCorp camerabot
The still photo above depicts the opening hours of the assault on the desert moon of Cinnabar by Voloni forces. After disembarking from their dropships the infantry drones quickly overrun static turret trench forces and seized the starport bastion. Allowing for the remaining invasion force to land. In the coming campaign year the Organitech based drone forces of the Voloni would prove their durability and mettle, easily outlasting the often superior but more fragile traditional thaumo-crystal tech used by the Cinnabarian defense forces. 

A magnificent construction built in the fifth century of the purple fruitbat, by their most Imperious & Sanctimonious Majesty Octovunis the II. During the August Years it was expanded several times with lavish art galleries and steeple chapels built onto its already precariously piled top. Later on, after a century of neglect and financial squalor under the Vessi family the newly installed Fassi family used the palace for their notorious sky executions, where dissidents, traitors, and other enemies of the state where pushed off the edge. During the Argent Revolution the palace was a bastion for the royal family and army, used to position artillery for the shelling of the rest of the capitol from its elevated position. Eventually with the threat of rebel explosives placed at the pillar bases the army surrendered. Nowadays the palace is a museum and cultural center though its cavernous halls also host dangerous pro-royalist plots.

Now comes the images the others shall answer...

To Velvet Inks I give you this emerald colored scene. Deduce what it is if ye can!

People have stopped in the rain to look at a cello hanging above the street

And to Nothics Eye I present this perplexing mystery. What will you make of it!

A World In 13 Items

Let's hop on the ol' bandwagon. 
  1. A cleaver like falchion, stained with black ichor, loops around the wrist.
  2. Set of flensing knives carefully wrapped in oilskin.
  3. Cord bound, rough paper pamphlet titled 'Bylaws Of The Teufeljägers Union, Stadt Chapter'.
  4. Bundle of yellowed papers, tied with red thread and stamped prominently. A devil hunting license.
  5. A set of spikéd plate armour, charms and warding eyes engraved across its entire surface.
  6. Crude map drawn in lead pencil, depicts the routes through & between places like 'The Double Deep Cistern' and 'Alchemical Dumps'.
  7. Singed silver implements in strange hooked and looped shapes, each marked with a single symbol.
  8. Apotropaic Lamp, glows a soft electric blue, mounted in brass, little shutter, when turned on strange shapes writhe half-real at its edge. Devil's hate it.
  9. Pilgrimage coin, symbol of an organ played by a masked woman, reads 'Her Devilish Lady's Ensemble & Choir'.
  10. A complicated wood box with strange organs and a bound imp inside, when strapped to the face it snuffles and sniffs the air, allows for incredibly heightened senses, don't keep it on too long though.
  11. Tin of biomantic meat, smells foul and tastes sweaty but is nutritious.
  12. A pouch with several hard, red-yellow lozenges, anti-corruption pills, expensive.
  13. A barbed meathook on a chain, stained with black ichor, clips to part of the armour.

Sunday, February 7, 2021

Jojiro's Orthodoxies Exercise Answered

I did Jojiro's GM exercises. Behold the results.

1. Your players arrive in an abandoned city - the first thing they do is enter a home, asking what's left in the pantry. what do you say to them?
        "You find cobwebs, dust, and mold mostly. A few piles of clay shards and wet stained spots mark where someones fermenting cabbage long ago burst the pot. Digging through the remaining intact pots and sacks reveals a rat nest hidden in the back corner of the cellar, dug half into the wall. The glint of something shiny catches your eye but to get at it you'll need to stick your hand in the potentially-still-rat-infested hole."

2. Your players want to talk to a city magistrate about an unpopular idea of theirs. In order to catch the magistrate off-guard, they approach early in the morning. What state do they find the magistrate in? 
        I could go two ways (or more if I have an actual characterization for said magistrate already pinned down or in the works).
        Perhaps, "You hammer on the heavy brass faced double doors of the Magistrates residence, after a solid few minutes, and a few insults hurled from neighboring residences, the peep-slot is yanked open and a sleepy eyed servant glares out at you. 'You lot better have a good reason for bothering her Honorableness at this hour. She's not even woken yet.' How do you answer?"
    Or maybe, "You jog along through the empty early morning streets, passing yawning vendors opening their stalls and shops, and quickly catch sight of the Magistrates palanquin hurrying down the lane. As you draw closer however, you spy the Magistrate lazily watching their surrounds out the window and they spy you in turn. The Magistrate seems to freeze as if thinking 'oh no, not these madmen again' then frantically drums on the side of the palanquin and shouts something to their servants who begin to jog double-time away from you. What do you do?"

3. During character creation, a player mentions that they want a naturally blue-haired character. Not for any particular reason, you were envisioning your campaign setting without this possibility. How do you respond?
        Well if I really found that a single instance of blue hair was so egregiously in violation of the settings vibe it'd be on me for not properly communicating said vibe to the players. But in most cases I'd go 'alrighty' and maybe add a hook in tied to that like 'a wizard did it' or 'you come from a blessed/cursed bloodline' or something.

4. Read the following entry for "point of interest", and then refine how you would present it in a game in some way. You might change how you would describe it out loud, edit it in writing, add typographical emphasis (bold, italics, underlining) for a play-by-post game, etc.
        Out loud at the table it might end up like so...
"The thick trunks and brambles fall away to reveal a clearing, a gentled sloped hillock capped with stone and encircled by crumbling granite pillars ensconced in ivy and engraved with ancient writing, Ash Dwarf from the looks of it (if there's a player in the group whose an ash dwarf, a scholar, or just someone who knows about such things I'll tell them that 'miners would frequent this shrine to get protection before going to the volcano', they could also probably get this info out of the salamander) As you draw closer you spy a pool of bubbling, simmering water at the center of the pillar circle and sunning itsself lazily on the edge is massive rust colored salamander. They salamander opens one eye and glances at you and rumbles 'Come travelers, rest your feet and partake in the protective water, etc, etc, you know the rest...' then closes its eye and resettles itself."
        In my notes it would look anywhere between...
            Ash Dwarf Shrine, Salamander Guardian
            Ash Dwarf Shrine, Granite Pillars (ivy), Salamander (guardian of the fountain, greeter of pilgrims, keeper of its history, pretty chill), Hot spring water grants protection from flame

5. Your players enter a dungeon you have prepared, and leave after being spooked by the monsters within. In truth, they are more than powerful enough to overcome the threats of the dungeon, and well-equipped to do so. One of the players asks "Do you think we're ready for this dungeon?" How do you answer?
        "Yeah, you could totally take it no problem, especially if you're smart about it."

6. One of your players has a spell, speak with insects. They use it to speak with a spider, at which point another player points out that it shouldn't work. The first player is obviously disappointed, and looks to you hopefully for you to overrule he other player. You don't remember the actual details of how the spell works, but your rulebook is handy if you need to look it up. What do you do?
        First off, sod the rulebook. My players and me can agree on what happens just fine between ourselves. Second, this is a fantastic opportunity to have some fun. "Okay so your right spiders aren't arachnids but they are arthropods and pretty close compared to a frog, so maybe the spell works but not as well, with some broken language and confusion, heck, maybe this applies to any insect adjacent group, you could even talk to crabs but not very well. Does that sound reasonable to everyone?"

Reflection #1 
        I make a lot of stuff up in the moment. Like half the details for the shrine would probably be made up in the moment including the salamander being able to talk. And if Im doing good, top of my game, I'll be throwing lots of complications/dilemmas made up in the moment in. Additionally, I prefer telling players straight up without valuing too much. Especially if it would make the scene better/more clearer (like describing the thoughts of an NPC in terms of 'they look like they're thinking'). Also also, I prefer working with players then defaulting to the rulebook or holding my choices as supreme.

7. (response to 1) "There's nothing in the pantry."
        A bit bland, missing a chance to throw some more fun at the players and help make this abandoned city more evocative. But understandable if trying to keep the game on pace (though I would still include a description even if its a glossed over one).

8. (response to 2) "The magistrate - only a petty official who has temporarily taken over this post, by the way - isn't even tired - he's an early morning sort of gentleman. Despite the early hour, the dawn's rays still barely tickling over the hills, he looks well put-together. Not a hair is out of place on his head, and his sharply kept mustache suggest a morning ritual of wax-infused grooming. The man is already making steady headway into a stack of tidy paperwork as you arrive, You're in luck however - he seems to be in a good mood, which may make him more amenable to your suggestion than normal."
        Sounds fine. A bit overly verbose without adding much I think, but that's a stylistic difference. Though the 'however' after 'you're in luck' strikes me as odd, since nothing about the previous description seems to go against the the magistrate being in a good mood. 

9. (response to 3) "Sure you can have blue hair! I hope you don't mind if nobody else does though - I didn't really originally picture that sort of hair, and I've got so much else to juggle that I probably won't add a whole lot of world responsiveness to blue hair. It'll just be an aesthetic thing to help you better picture your character, not much beyond that."
        Not my fav response but understandable as it seems to come from a different refereeing style than me. I do wonder what this Ref is so busy juggling that they can't throw in some response to the blue hair, blue hair doesn't seem any different from any other character feature that the world might respond too. They're probably using a crunchier ruleset, or perhaps have a high intrigue game planned (though in that case such a detail feels like it would be useful to add some reaction too). 

10. (response to 4) "The point of interest should be more direct, short, and to the point. I don't want to mention other shrines, since they'll come up when they come up, and players can make the connection about salamanders being normal if they want to. Since it's for a game, the phrases don't have to be grammatically correct or complete sentences - they just need to convert information. For a play-by-post game, I also want the keywords to stand out, so I will bold them:" "An Ash Dwarf shrine. 1 salamander stands guard outside. Simmering pool of fire shield (1 day duration) inside"
        The logic makes sense. Not exactly how I would do things myself. Hm, yeah the point on direct and short stand, I need to work on making my descriptions punchier and more focused. Especially when in a voice or live text game (in a play by post I would actually go with longer descriptions because I can and players have the time to read them). Though I would go a bit more descriptive than this example, throw in some evocative wording. Totally agree on the subject of grammar, run on sentences for the wiiiiinnnn! 

11. (response to 5)"Who knows? Haha."
        Hard dislike on this. It feels a bit dick-ish to be honest. I much prefer to be upfront and honest to my players than cryptic and vague. 

12. (response to 6) "I would look it up in the book, and if it's a regular question, I would add a sticky note to that page so I could find it faster, to show my players what the rules say. Knowing the rules and when to look them up is important, and I want to lead by example."
        Hard pass. See my previous comment on 'sod the rulebook' I think that's a missed opportunity to include the players and have some fun. As well, it would slow the game down. And furthermore for me it feels like disavowing responsibility, as a Ref I feel that you should not have to break out the rulebook every time you're unsure of something (especially for something as small as a spell). I feel that you should be able to make a ruling in the moment with your players consent and consensus.

13. Imagine briefly, that the responses in 7 through 12 all came from the same GM, within the same campaign. Are there patterns that emerge about how this GM runs? Would you want the GM to be more consistent and predictable about anything? Does examining this hypothetical GM change how you thought  about your own tendencies, and your own patterns? Would you want to learn anything from this hypothetical GM or not? Why?
        They seem to be someone playing in a much crunchier ruleset than me, who places a greater value on holding to the rulebook than making rulings in the moment. I would theorize that they probably are more concerned with planned ideas and concepts than with coming up with stuff in the moment or letting players do lots of unexpected stuff (though this is just an impression). If I was this GM's player I would most likely prefer if they let us have a bit more freedom. These examples certainly bit my more collaborative and anarchic refereeing style in light since they are quite different from what I do. I'd be cruise to chat to with this GM but I suspect our respective styles would be too different for me to learn much. Maybe I'd get some cool ideas out of it tho. Their thought on making the description of the shrine more concise is a good one though, Im working on making my prose more tight myself. Though I like a little evocative flare to things. Fancy words and all that.