Sunday, May 30, 2021

Fiend Folio Review M-Q

Phew this book is longer than I remember.

Magnesium Spirit
Seems extremely overpowered, pretty much no means of interaction besides fighting (and tbh it doesn't sound like it make for a good fight) could be much improved if perhaps the spirit still did its whole 'fight to take over a host body' shtick but then has to take time preparing its complex ritual to return it home. Giving players options to disrupt, negotiate, etc...

Its a flying manta ray that murders people... well its not the worst... not very interesting either.

RETRO REVIEW-AD&D Fiend Folio (1981) - Forum - DakkaDakka | Roll the dice  to see if I'm getting drunk.

Solid. A tricksy foe, signposting via 'sacks full of bones' near their lairs, a unique attack (garroting, which suits its sneaky ambush demeanor well). Could use one or two more bits. Maybe a specific item that they go after/want to steal? Or some interaction with another creature/people (besides just 'they want to kill it').

Creatures which transform (or try to anyway) characters are always great, and this one's got a strong location to go with it, neat tactics (paralyzation + trying to extinguish light), the hunting is good. Biggest flaws is that 1) why would adventurers go to shaft (besides curiosity) 2) the transformation into meenlock should have more intractability, perhaps proceeding slowly in stages so it could be stopped?

I love mephitis, their serve excellently as like 'elemental imps' and their cheerfully vulgar demeanor is wonderful, they'd make a good greek chorus to throw into a game. I particularly love this bit "if they can obtain them... they will wear clothes of the most garish design and colour possible." Oh and of course this "They are often seen puffing upon smoking rolls of exceedingly foul-smelling dried vegetation" (mephit's smoke weed y'all)

I like Mezzodaemons their a bit messy and lack a strong identity but a kernel of excellence is there, and the bug fella illustration is amazing. Mostly the entry needs focus, I've rewritten it a few times myself choosing to play various abilities. 

This is just another Meazel but with more traps? The two should just be rolled together.

The Necrophidius from Fiend Folio - by Alan Hunter | Advanced dungeons and  dragons, Dungeons and dragons, Fantasy art

Magical dancing skeleton snake that dances you to death love it. Silly and awesome.

💯 {Staff Pick} - [Let's Read] AD&D 1e Fiend Folio | Page 232 | RPGnet  Forums

Excellent, pulpy creature that's not what you'd expect. I'd run this thing so players assume its some ghoulish zombie thing stumbling through the woods then NEEDLES. Very fun. 

Could be fun to make players carefully think out their actions to get rid of this nuisance, or couple it with some 'normal' goblins who're using this one's abilities to their advantage. Though I would make it so the actions players take are reversed, rather than them being compelled to do things so they retain their agency. Feels very goblin all around. I like it.

Solid beastie if only a combat encounter mostly, you should be able skin it and use its fur to mimic the duplication ability.

??? Its just an aesthetically different kind of tough hobgoblin ???

They don't really have anything unique to them. Just a kind of generic higher level demon/devil.

What if an ogre but with next to no of an ogres unique traits.

These things are grotesque and I love them. Could use some more interactive bits though. Maybe people train them as attack animals. Maybe they hold vendettas. Something to add some more interaction.

Wayyyyy to much text >:P great otherwise, classic monster (seriously though why is there so much text for this one?????).

Love insects, water finding antenna, pincer attack that sticks fast even when they're dead. All solid.

💯 {Staff Pick} - [Let's Read] AD&D 1e Fiend Folio | Page 251 | RPGnet  Forums

Phantom Stalker
The illustration is a bit at odds with the text, looks more like some kind of pulp biotech spaceman rather than an elemental spirit. I'd flavor things more ifrit like (and steal the illustration for other purposes) but otherwise this one's pretty neat. Bound spirit to a wizard, clause that makes it hunt the party down after its masters death. Could use a clear way to communicate this to the players however, maybe the wizard and the spirit have a big glowing sigil on their heads that any wizardly sort could tell is a 'revenge' charm or something like that.

Ghosts always have lots of potential though the passage squanders it a bit by just having the ghost 'attack' and drive away any who comes near its haunt. Needs more interactivity.

Protein Polymorph
This is just a more shoggoth-y mimic.

Hairy ape people? Theres really not anything unique here that distinguishes them from any other pulp style hairy ape person. The illustration and name are nice enough I guess.

💯 {Staff Pick} - [Let's Read] AD&D 1e Fiend Folio | Page 255 | RPGnet  Forums

I kinda like these things for some reason, they have a good name. But otherwise they're pretty bland, bitey fish. Meh. 

Insane naked savages (implied to be inhuman as well by the text) who do nothing but attack on sight are... not great to put it lightly :I The confusion ability is kinda of neat, might steal that and build some kind of special magically cursed warrior out of it. Otherwise I'll pass on this one.

Slowly, we are inching towards the end.

Tuesday, May 25, 2021

MMnMM & Apotheosis Janitors Review: Into the Wendiverse

The following is a review of two new games written by Wendi Y. (who is definitely not a close friend of mine, biasing this review, nope) both games use a unique house system created by Wendi, lacking a name for this structural frame she has brewed up I shall be calling it the Wendiverse.

It takes a mixture of traits from OSR, PbtA, FKR, and others, creating an intriguingly innovative framework in the process. I personally particularly like the Needs, Wants, and Beats mechanics/procedures which quite nicely allow for characters to have a freeform 'character arc' without many of the traditional drawbacks in trying to accomplish such a feat.

Marvelous Mutations & Merry Musicians

Or as its abbreviated MMnMM :P a wonderful setting (and system) book for a gonzo post-post apocalyptic world of wandering musicians and strange musical magics. 

I love the setting, its delightfully over the top and fun but loose so you can toy with it.

Mechanically the Wendiverse framework is lightweight, taking after games like Messerspiel with a dice pool based resolution system, but taking a sort of story focused bent embodied by the Needs/Wants/Beats mechanics. This in particular I think has a lot of potential, you can even chop out the numbers/dice and it works fantastically. I've been stealing it for my own stuff since I read it. The mechanic lets players direct and decide their characters own development and potentially character arcs without manhandling the game  or stepping on other players toes.

If I must make one criticism, its that it doesn't have as clear player goals as Apotheosis Janitors at start. However the premise of 'wandering musicians' lends itself well to the creation of conflict, and there are ample tools within for generating adventure.

And of course the whole thing is fantastically, nay, decadently filled with images of Wendi's own conjuring and creation. I fucking adore the mushroom man playing an accordion and the purple octopus saxophone player. 

Oh did I mention the pdf is completely free? Because Wendi is awesome.

MMnMM also currently has an adventure jam (or should I say a Bop) happening.

Apotheosis Janitors 

This game has the delightful premise of being the acolytes of a 'god', who is fact an ascended mortal, charged with the dirty work of wiping away the evidence of your god's non-godly origins. For me this is a very strong premise for a game as it immediately gives a strong thoroughline.

This game is the first of the Wendiverse (and co-made with ContrabandRimer) and you can see framework beginning to take shape. It lacks the Beats mechanic of MMnMM but has its own unique system tidbit for praying to your god. As well as tools for building your cult and its doctrines. Furthermore, the book features a factions section which provide loose templates for notable factions of the game world which can be easily customized while retaining the same shape and theme. I particularly like the way these factions are formatted.

And of course Apotheosis Janitors is also free and decadently layed-out.

Closing Thoughts

The Wendiverse framework is quite versatile for engaging in a variety of worlds with its play style, and easily hackable to boot since most of the work is merely in writing up the setting details. And both of the games written so far are wonderfully evocative and easy to pick up and play. I really hope to see this system being used more in the future.

Wendi is at this moment working on another project, an urban fantasy game focused on what are traditionally considered monsters through a queer lens. It's looking quite fantastic already and has even more tools for building the world than MMnMM or Apotheosis Janitors.

Sunday, May 23, 2021

Slushpost Mark 5.

Slosh swoosh goes the slush.
  1. Peacocks are prized by illusionists, their bluster and 'eyed' feathers fit quite the metaphorical bill when it comes to their deceptive magic.
  2. A giant underground lake that is entirely one massive gelatinous ooze/slime. It is sentient and speaks by vibrating its massive surface like a giant jello speaker. Philosophical by nature, the creature enjoys conversation and ponderation. Perhaps the players must convince it to tense up its surface so they can walk across.
  3. Ignatius Agni Ferrous, the godling of flame, fire, and smelting. 
  4. There are statues of the tyrant sorcerer-king everywhere, as way posts, road signs, in random fields, many for some reason seem to have their eyes gouged out, this is because the sorcerer king spies on his kingdom through the eyes of the statues.
  5. Elves are a type of lungfish cloaked in glamours to appear human-esq.
  6. Road priests with plumb lines and surveyors tools making sure things are level.
  7. Road gods in great road palaces in the spirit realms, the maintenance and traffic of a road determines the gods prestige/appearance/retinue and etc...
  8. The grave goods you are buried with determine your wealth and comfort in the afterlife. Likewise, stealing grave goods will change the status of someone in the afterlife. Pillage a king's tomb and vwoop they become a pauper in the afterlife. Also/or dead people will manifest helpfully to those who gave them proper grave goods/the bigger the treasure buried the more helpful they can be, this applies even to enemies, they are honor bound to help you.
  9. Background: A zoologists who studies the ecology of superorganisms, specifically corporations and states, those huge living systems.
  10. A culture where polycule partner chains (partner A - partner B - partner C) form the basis of a family unit, family units are very wide but not necessarily deep.
  11. Space travel based on constellations, depending on whose you use you get access to different routes.
  12. The first humans were made of dough by the gods.
  13. Burglar is an incredibly underutilized word.
  14. Maces and thwack sticks as an important cultural weapon.
  15. Despite the stereotypical 'blood for the blood god' sounding name, the Broken Vein Cult is actually famed for its hospitals, surgeons and addict support programs.
  16. Big ferrets instead of guard dogs, writhing around on the ends of their leads.
  17. Unweight - a floating/anti-gravitational liquid substance.
  18. Gutter Vampire.
  19. "Wrong side of the grass" as an euphuism for being dead or in some cases being undead.
  20. Oyur, a half frozen land of war-goat riding reavers trapped between the polar lords of the north, and the empires of the south.  
  21. The city of Mahket.
  22. There are five seasons; blooming, sporefall, scorching, dimming, and blackness.
  23. A mystery cult where their esoteric secrets are special math, not magical math, just fancy calculus and stuff that know one but them knows.
  24. Item: A hunk of limestone, nearly a cube, 1 meter by 1 meter by 1 meter, riddled with fossils and possessing a great big cleft down the side. When wetted it bleeds Cambrian wildlife. Scuttering trilobites, waving crinoids, mollusks, sponges, brachiopods all pouring out of the fissure. It ceases once dry.
  25. Every year at noon on the solstices, a great tower rotates it's way up out of the earth, by midnight it will rotate back down.
  26. Yoinkershins, tiny thieving creatures, spidery and batlike, that snatch up items of interest (shiny things mainly) and store them in extra-dimensional nests. Used by trans-dimensional travelers in a similar manner to how sailors spy birds to tell if land is nearby.
  27. Steal the statues of the gods (which are the literal gods, or their abodes at least) to imprison and hold hostage a peoples gods.
  28. A culture where women dress drab and men dress colorfully and fancifully like birds of paradise.
  29. It is common practice for opponents engaging in honorable battle to play a round of cards first, both to perhaps deescalate tensions and resolve the conflict without blood shed and to determine who shall get to have the first blows. This tradition originated as part of one on one duels but nowadays even king's will meet before a battle to play a game.
  30. The clothing of choice for sophont bat-people is clearly the waistcoat. It has pockets, it allows for ornamentation, but it doesn't interfere with their wings. Bats. In waistcoats. Get on it people.
  31. An ancient city of mechanical men stuck in their routines but also subtly evolving, breaking forth. People come to the city to pillage it and study it. On occasion some of the mechanical men leave to explore the world. 
  32. Arquebusiers, their matchlocks swaddled in oilcloth and held high above their heads, wade through a bog past towering ruins of glass and steel. Their frog-folk guide weaves the mist out of their way and closes it behind them in a sticky mist web to block their pursuers.
  33. The king has commissioned a new headpiece, a metal 'crown' first of its kind.
  34. The current monarch and her royalist forces have been overthrown by the parliamentarian army and its dreadful dictator-general who reigns with terror over the land, the peasants stir in dissent against both regimes.
  35. The king has been shipwrecked, presumed dead, a crisis of secession has sprung forth. But the king is not dead in fact, what will happen when he returns?
  36. Frog/salamander/fish folk must apply moisturizing goop to themselves to keep from drying out.
  37. A tall city of spires and bridges, deep in its underbelly among the middens, the gong farmers are one of the city's biggest factions, threatening to stop their work and see the upper echelons overflowing with refuse and waste if their demands are not met.
  38. Bandit camels... wizard camels... shapeshifting camels... camels...
  39. Wooden (or perhaps metal) slat tokens carried & worn that represent social status/worth. Kept track of by bureaucrat-priests who assess your worth based on arcane ledgers.
  40. A mountain, neatly bisected by perfectly straight walled canyon. The work of an ancient super weapon. Far in the distance another mountain similarly bisected. And another. And then a great gouge in the earth, now filled with water.

Wednesday, May 12, 2021

Three Strange Cities

Bilbiring Town

It sits on the border of two provinces, appearing only at night as a black city of glistening stone and shining golden lights. It is said its inhabitants are descended from shape-changing spirits who intermarried with humans, this heritage distinguishes them with the conspicuous lack of a nose. Each third night of the month all the local townsfolk from the two provinces to either side of Bilbiring row their boats, laden with goods, out to the glistening black city to do trade and make merry love with its inhabitants.


In the cold north waters, far from shore, through the mists, following the smell of boiling blubber on the breeze, you can find the city. Its harbor crowded with strange ships, the clapboard houses rising up around the tryworks, brothels, and blacksmiths. Odd blubbers are sold here. Products of things which one might hazard to call whales. And even odder are the many manners of whaler, cloaked in oilskins which conceal atypical bodies.


It is a country of reverse spires sunken into the ground, and of inhabitants who walk backwards and speak backwards and proceed through all of their life in reverse. Visitors are provided with charms, little necklace bells which ring before you shake them, that allow for interaction, though it remains a headache inducing process. Folk who peddle in the arts of harm oft covet the blades of Esrever, able to wound before a blow is made. 

Monday, May 10, 2021

Some Alternate Histories

I have copied Throne of Salt once more.
  1. Repressive measures fail to curtail the Luddite movement, it spills over onto the continent.
  2. Moveable type printing flourishes in medieval India.
  3. Arab sailors discover the new world.
  4. The Monitor's guns manage to successfully sink the Merrimack. 
  5. Alexios I Komnenos decides against requesting aid from the Pope.
  6. The Zanclean Flood never happens and the Mediterranean remains dammed off from the ocean.
  7. The Arno river is successfully diverted.
  8. Rome delenda est.
  9. The Egyptians actually concretely write down where the hell the Land of Punt is.
  10. William the Bastard and his invading Norman army are drowned by an unexpected channel storm. 
  11. Horses remain undomesticated.
  12. Edward Lowe fails to invent cat litter.
  13. The Suez canal project fails due to lack of support, Suez Canal Company goes bankrupt.
  14. Camels invasive to North America.
  15. A successful Franco-Mongol alliance against the Caliphates is achieved.
  16. Adolphe Sax fails to escape to one of his numerous brushes with death. 
  17. The Ottomans win the Siege of Vienna.
  18. Saboteurs successfully destroy the Eiffel Tower at its opening.
  19. Iceland is settled by Basques.
  20. Atahualpa is warned against meeting with the conquistadors and instead ambushes them in the night, killing almost all of Pizarro's army and seizing their arms and armour.