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the 1975 edition is easily accessible, prospective occultists are cautioned against it for many of its entries are outdated, false, or mistranslated.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. 

Sunday, June 26, 2022

Morrow Project - Liberation At Riverton, A Review

Liberation at Riverton - Wikipedia

My first meeting with the Morrow Project came in the guise of Different Worlds Magazine, Issue 33 which I inherited along with two issues of Dragon, a copy of the AD&D 1e Players Handbook, Moldvay Basic Set, and a handful of modules. The meeting was brief. A short module featuring a plague carrying biker gang along with some Q&A of the authors. But it wormed the game into my brain and eventually I scrounged pdf's for it out of the corners of the internet and read through them. 

And I was charmed. Its an old, idiosyncratic game but interesting in its presentation of details and has some surprisingly well made modules. So as I reread the Morrow Project's books I will be reviewing them, in hopes that this might introduce other folks to the game. 

Now the obvious place to start would be the actual ruleset. But I shall do however I please, and instead we're starting with the very first module, "R001 Liberation At Riverton." 

The Premise 

Players are team members of the "Morrow Project" (a secret enterprise to assist in rebuilding civilization after nuclear war) cryogenically frozen to wait out the imminent apocalypse which indeed, comes and goes. They wake up 150 years later in a 'bolthole' with supplies, armaments, and amphibious assault vehicle. Their mission is vague "fulfill the project's goals: help people, and make contact with prime base and other teams."

The players awaken in the vicinity of 'Riverton' a town of unnamed location*, near a National Guard training camp which was nuked during the war, although the nuke fell south of target. The town was subsequently razed in the war's immediate aftermath during fighting with refugees and marauders. Present day the town has been reduced to numerous isolated farmsteads and a small "town" in the southeast of the old ruins proper. 

Ruling over the locals are the 'Imps' (derived from MP, the contraction of Military Police), remnants of the National Guard unit who had been stationed at the nearby camp. Over the years supplemented and supplanted by recruited vagabonds. They have a stockpile of military equipment, including small arms, mortars, jeeps, three trucks, and three tanks. The Imps spend their time roving about confiscating supplies and terrorizing the locals who are resigned to their fate. 

Into this enter the players.


* The town of Riverton and the national guard camp are in fact, blatant serial number filed off versions of Grayling, Michigan and the nearby Camp Grayling. The regional map itself is an almost 1 to 1 reproduction of the local area (just compare the two on google maps).

Layout & Art

The module is very much a product of its time, and quite home made to boot. Information comes variously in dense, hard to scan blocks or in easy to read, broken up sections. Of spelling errors there are numerous. Nonetheless there's a clear amount of effort put into it, and its certainly far from the worst layout I've seen! It does its job (not to mention the printing quality and subsequent scan quality of the pdf I'm using are partially to blame for bad readability). The section describing the Imp camp is well laid out in particular.

The art meanwhile is sparse and also of homemade quality, nothing to write home about but fun in that charming early RPG game way. The maps provided for both the camp and town are a tad hard to read, but do their job. The keying is adequate, but given the size of many of the maps, as well as the blank space, on the page it might've been more useful to just write out building and room names rather than muck about with numbering/lettering.

The regional map feels superfluous, and does not provide all that much usable information. No particular farms are shown, nor an outline of the local ruins. And given the discrete nature of the module's few points of interest, it's fairly easy to run it as a theater of the mind pointcrawl. That said, it is still useful to know the relative positions of the town to the camp, the local lakes, and the old roadways running throughout. And I cannot fault the module too much for this map, given that it is typical of many other rpgs of the time (not to mention that point crawls didn't exist as a concept yet :P). 

Farmers & Townies 

The locals get a big, rambling, multi-paragraph long write up. They are a simple, isolationist lot, largely defined by their fear of the Imps*. While the write up is long, hard to scan, and repetitive in places, it does provide a good sense of their character and provides actionable information for how they'll react to both players and player actions.

Of the locals, the townies (who live in the small, mapped out 'town' beside the overgrown ruins) get the most description and their meaningfully differentiated from the farmers in their attitudes towards the Imps. Not true factional difference, but difference none the less. A blacksmith and his son (who salvage metal from the ruins), an innkeeper and his family, a "store" (run by wandering horse traders whose stock was stolen by the Imps several years ago), a doctor (former wandering "emdee"), and two farming families. In addition there's a ruined farmstead, the family mysteriously poisoned after refuting the Imps. 

The secret of the farmstead is later revealed to be radiation poisoning from a "blue undead" one of the Morrow Projects few fantastical elements. A sort of radioactive zombie-ghoul, that the Imps keep in an old munitions bunker.

All together the module provides several npc's, hooks or at least interesting details for most, and provides an interesting problem for the players in that most of the locals are cowed by the Imps and too scared to take any action. Much of a play through might be sussing out the willingness of various townies and farmers to fight, or convincing the others. 


*An important note. There’s several (at least four cases I think) of implied and pretty-much-just-outright-stated sexual assault in the module. None directly “shown” but aftermath and history of it springing from the Imp’s abuses are prevalent. 

The Imps

These fellows get a large chunk of writeup. Most of which is dedicated to describing their compound and equipment.

Most of the Imps we learn are thugs recruited from wandering brigands and are a foul, brutish lot with simple discipline, of which, quote "there are no good ones." They're the nasty bad guys to beat up essentially. However they are neither a unthinking horde nor are they without internal divisions! A detailed breakdown is given of how the Imps structure themselves (in a corrupted form of US army structuring)* and a write up of their officers. 

The officers are divided up into four "nco's" (sargents essentially) and two "co's" (lieutenants all) all overseen by a simmering gout stricken "captain." Each is fairly well written up in terms of personality, and plenty of hints are given at how eager each is to go at each others throats. 

Of equipment both weapons and misc. gear is described well, with information as to how exactly the Imps use each. Giving a complete picture of their tactics. Though the information is bit spread out and could be condensed into a 'battle plan' section. All the equipment in working order feels a bit extensive, but 150 years is a short enough time that I can buy it since its been taken care of consistently and is described with signs of use, wear, and inhabitance. 

Of this I must also level my biggest criticism. That the Morrow Project suffers from an inordinate love for military gear, devoting altogether too much time to statting up the specifics of particular guns (though mercifully confined to the appendix for the most part) and vehicles leading the system and its adventures to flag in other areas. I find that the cultures of the post apocalyptic world aren't explored nearly as much as I would like. 

Next comes the camp map and keying. All of which is goodly done, with many little details that add to the previously mentioned tactics, or simply provide implications and inspiration. 


* While structure is described, exact numbers for each element (squad, platoon, etc) are not given. I would guess that the writers assumed the reader would be familiar with the terms.  

Closing 

The module finishes up with a rough outline of how play should go. While it does feature players auto-colliding with a recently pillaged farmstead, as a means to introduce them to the situation (and likely push them into aligning with the locals forthwith), it is largely open ended. More of a guideline for how the situation might play out unaltered upon player's introduction, than any kind of railroad. 

Taking it alltogather, I would say that....

The modules strengths lie in its sandbox design that presents an immediate situation for the players to involve themselves in (granted, a very black and white one, but an immediate conflict none the less). With both a small social web to navigate and a dangerous and powerful opponent of whom the means of defeating is left open ended.

The modules flaws lie in the lack of stronger factions (though that is a halfhearted criticism since most of the npcs can be easily fleshed out into more dynamic factions from their description) and various small details of layout, system, and style which make it clunky to work with, but are far from sinking it as an adventure.  

It works well either as a one shot hack and slash, shoot em up, or as an introduction into the post apocalyptic world for the players. However in the latter case some good hooks, implied or stated, to the broader world will have to be contrived by the referee. 

***

All together a solid little module, and a strong start to this review series. 

Random Thoughts 

Where are the Imps making or getting the alcohol to fuel their vehicles? 

An easy way to tie Riverton into a broader region would be to have the Imps trade with a nearby distillery or perhaps have oil fields (there are small oil fields near Grayling in real life) to fuel their vehicles. 

The real Grayling sits right on the I75 Highway that cuts up the whole of Michigan and down down into the southern states, while likely in no great repair, it could be a connecting route for traders and their ilk. Of course the Imps are likely holding trade up with taxes and tariffs. 

Monday, June 20, 2022

Deep Country : The Guano Isles

How the Gold Rush Led to Real Riches in Bird Poop | At the Smithsonian|  Smithsonian Magazine

Out where deep country meets deep water, on a handful of rocky islands under the baking sun, layers of bird shit strata have hardened into rich, white gold. Blasted, chipped, and shoveled out. Loaded into freighters to take back to Bastion where it becomes saltpeter, fertilizer, and all manner of products. 

Among the innumerable sea birds might be found...

1-4: d8 Convict Shovelers - STR 13, 3hp, Shovels & Picks (d6), Manacles, Grimy Overalls. Want to escape from this life sentence of grueling labour. Watched over by a lone, surly Guard - 6hp, Whip (d4), Musket (d8), Officious Hat.
1 : Hauling bags of guano down a dangerous cliff to be loaded onto a barge.
2 : Watching a fellow prisoner be whipped for killing a gull.
3 : Fistfighting, a distraction so that another convict can steal a stick of dynamite. 
4 : Sitting about and refusing to work despite overseer's threats.

5-8: The Great Auk - STR 18, 10hp, Stomping (d8), Snapping Beak (d10). Wants to eat tiny tasty things, like you.
5 : Goofily chasing panicked convicts along the shore. 
6 : Bobbing its head, flapping its wings, and practicing its mating display.  
7 : Grooming its feathers in the sun. 
8 : Swimming about, unbeknownsteadly hunted by an obsessive sea captain in his rowboat. 

9-11: d8 Egg-Eaters - DEX 15, 5hp, Cudgels (d6), Bird Masks, Camouflage Feather-cloaks. Want to become like the island's sea birds and encourage others to that end. 
9 : Stalking a clueless surveyor, intent on kidnapping him for induction.
10 : Dancing a ritual out on the cliff-tops, concluding with one leaping off and transforming into a cormorant. 
11 : Perched atop the rocks practicing gull-calls.

12-15: Fortinbrasic Marines - (detachment) STR 15, 8hp, Muskets (d8), Shakos, Red Cockades. Want to evict the Bastionese industrialists from the islands which they claim belong to their (Failed) City. 
12 : Unloading a cannon from a landing boat amid the surf and squawking gulls. 
13 : Lost, their officers argue over a poorly drawn map. 
14 : Torching a collection of mining shacks and taking people prisoner. 
15 : Miserably encamped, eating spoilt tinned meat. 

16-18: d2 Steam Lorries - Ponderously hauling guano along the rocky paths. Each crewed by a Driver and Stoker - 4hp, Pistol or Coal Shovel (d6), Flatcaps. 
16 : Flying along at dangerous speeds in the hands of a joyriding convict, pursued by crew. 
17 : Taking a pack of investors from Bastion on a tour of the island's mines. 
18 : Broken down, scalding steam venting everywhere. 

19-20 "Ghost Of The Isles" - Bertrand Obel, Ex-Naturalist : WIL 16, Sheets, Wailing. Wants to drive everyone from the islands leaving them pristine, utilizes his Phobic Lamp - those caught in the light see the worst thing they can imagine. 
19 : Charging down a hillside yelling, driving a storm of panicked gulls ahead of him.
20 : Hiding behind a rock, quickly sketching an interesting sea-bird.

Sunday, June 5, 2022

30 Minute Dungeon : Crypt Of The Bird Demon


Once again, per the methodology from Priestess of Spiders.

Idea : The aviary burial crypt of an ancient demon meant to be kept locked away 

Hook : Wizard's paying you to crack open this tomb and bring back its contents

Encounters :

A. 1d8 devil peacocks with flaming eyes and golden tail feathers, prowling about crooning praises of their lord. 

B. 2d4 tomb guardians wrapped in scripture-inscribed cloth, lugging copper-swords, bellowing warnings at interlopers. Detest the peacocks, pity the skeletons.

C. 1d4 golden skeletons aimlessly whispering, grasp at the living in hopes of dragging them back to their slumbering master and having their flesh restored in reward. 

Key :

Trap/Hazards 

A long hall with lead seal inscribed into the floor and ceiling, both glow sickly, stepping over or under it causes lightening to arc between and electrocute the intruder. 

The avian demon itself slumped over an iron throne bound in copper chains, surrounded by decaying gold skeletons and hung with gilded ornaments. If disturbed it will grasp the nearest living creature and drain its soul, reinvigorating it enough to burst its bounds. It desires an appropriate retinue, and more souls, offering tempting rewards.

"Empty"

An entrance chamber cut into the red sandstone leading to a massive lead door inscribed with warnings in a dead tongue. 

Twisting baffle-maze, all made of spirit thwarting zig-zags, many warnings written upon the walls. 

Tomb warrior niches set into the wall, the inhabitants long since crumbled to dust and fabric scraps Sorting through reveals corroded anti-magic copper swords and copper circlets

Special 

An inscribed lead sphere with cylindrical section unscrewed from it, hung from the ceiling in a copper-framework. The unscrewed section glows sickly. Reinserting it will activate the thaumatic bomb within which will explode in 5 minutes compacting the entire tomb into a localized singularity.

Non-Player Character

The nameless scribe whose sigil-tattooed body is invisible to spirits, constructs, and demons. He constantly repairs the tomb wards with chisel and hammer. Tek tek tek. Made immortal by hiding his soul in said chisel. Sleeps in a hidden wall-niche. Gives stern warnings, but is friendly and eager for conversation and new things. 

Friday, June 3, 2022

30 Minute Dungeon : Amphitheater Of Ghost & Brigand

File:El Coliseo de Roma (Hubert Robert).jpg - Wikipedia

Per the methodology from Priestess of Spiders.

Idea : A haunted and overgrown amphitheater complex used as a hideout by brigands

Hook : Rescue the son of a merchant whose being held for ransom

Encounters :

A. 1d6 brigands, flaunting cockades and toting knives and pistols, on patrol. Swaggering and joking among each other, not really expecting anything. 

B. 1d4 ghosts, singing and muttering their lines, will ask you to join in a play, if satisfied they will gift you a silver gilded thespian mask, if refused they will conjure up a miniature tempest.

C. The brigand prince, dressed in plundered finery, mediating a dispute between two brigands over the proper ownership of a bejeweled goblet, a duel looks to be in order. 

Key :

Trap/Hazards 

A web of strings hung with bells across the easiest approach into the amphitheater, if disturbed the ringing will alert 1d6 brigands who will come to investigate. 

A makeshift fire-pit surrounded by 1d8 snoring brigands who roll and shift uneasily in their sleep. A very large and obvious iron key ring hangs on the far wall.

"Empty"

The stage, wooden boards sagging and pierced through with growing trees in places, looking up you can see the whole of the encircling bleachers.

Old musty prop closets, digging around unearths two intact silk robes and a tarnished silver amulet

gnarled tree growing out of the stands, its roots split apart the stones allowing one to easily drop down into an old dusty under-passage. 

Special 

The acoustics when standing in the seats are perfect to amplify any sounds three-fold and let you displace it as though a ventriloquist anywhere in the structure. 

Non-Player Character

Umberto, an amateur con artist the brigands mistook for a noble and are holding captive. He has made friends with the ghosts who occasionally visit him to put on miniature dramas, though they are reluctant to help him escape. 

Monday, May 30, 2022

Inventory Worldbuilding : Shellfolk Rambler

Shellfolk Rambler
For every youth there comes a time to go rambling on a long tour of the stars, some keep it small; just the local hives, others hop ship-to-ship with the strange shell-less foreigners to odd worlds. Everyone comes home eventually, with stories a-plenty to tell of their adventures.
  1. Symbiote shell-suit (crustacean-esq, vacuum-rated, maneuvering jets, alive)
  2. Mushroom-cricket pemmican (wrapped in bio-plastic, leftovers fed to suit)
  3. Dagger-axe, short hafted
  4. Rigging knife
  5. Cable coil, weighted end (lassoing)
  6. Fertilizer brick (compressed phosphates & nitrates wrapped in cheap gold foil)
  7. Leg-braces
  8. Membrane tent (with airlock)
  9. Shell-paint, turquoise (vacuum-rated)
  10. Story-songs : The Many Quest-Rovings of Yohann the Wake
  11. Longshoremen's tattoo, carved (Belphagor docks)
  12. Unfolding tableau, gold & aluminum etching of hive-mates & ancestors 
  13. Pitons (handful)

Sunday, May 15, 2022

Slushpost Mark 6.

ktrey on Twitter: "Giant Week caps off with the underused (at least in my  games) Giant Shrews Hope this helps them see their proper due! #ttrpgs #OSE  #DnD #randomtables https://t.co/jaGyQilMRt https://t.co/cCqzu3l5lM" /

More scraps and scribbles. 
  1. In an ancient levant world there is a demon of plaster and whitewash, it demands MORE limestone MORE hardwoods MORE charcoal to feed its lust for plaster, it shall never be satisfied with its eternal deforestation until the whole region is ecologically devastated.
  2. Familial ties are a major thing, considering making lieutenants and various other functionaries siblings and cousins to their boss. 
  3. A cocky young nobleman has whipped up a frenzied gang to go and kidnap (voluntarily) his future wife from her family.
  4. A posse of flea-knights riding about on an animal, hop to a new host and command them to act as their noble steed/page.
  5. A necromancer's cavaliers riding upon slavering ghoul-back, horse pistols and sabres in hand.
  6. Spirits care not for casualty, spirits are ideal for fueling an ftl engine, the devil wants your soul because they are a used spaceship salesman and hell is a junkyard.
  7. Random equipment tables are tricky to write because you don't want players to all end up with the same stuff, but when they have a bit of overlap it can generate fun ideas. How did they both end up with a bunch of stick grenades? Maybe they robbed an arsenal together. And so forth...
  8. Butchers who serve the Red God, and who have many rituals and holy laws concerning the proper methods of killing and processing an animal. Have dealings with the gutter vampires who sup upon abattoir temple run-off.
  9. Eutrpænursgið the glacial troll.
  10. The oldest business in the city is Ma Wu's cockatrice bucket restaurant.
  11. A devout giant hermit crab that uses ruined temples for shells, profuses a weird syncretic blending of several different faiths.
  12. Jags Kaaba 
  13. Oh fuck, zeppelin pirates stole our sheep again.
  14. The king's acolytes chop off their own heads to show fealty, serving on even headless.
  15. Venus figurine-esq goddess with a hagfish's head, barbels enlarged to dangle like long braids, the patron of scavengers, waste technicians, and worm-handlers. 
  16. Game where you play as expatriate abductees of the Mi-Go, your brains resleeved into new bodies, worker for a Fungi patron salvaging ancient megastructures, mining great old one brain-matter, or otherwise bumping around a mythos, alien filled, interstellar space-setting.
  17. Use giant shrews
  18. A cavern full of speleothems, each stalagmite and stalactite carved like reaching fingers,
  19. A silver-bound spellbook, when you dream it transforms into a silver snake to speak with you.
  20. A fad for oiled silk umbrellas has been imported from a neighboring land, umbrella owners have been met with derision and assault by carriage drivers fearful of losing their business.
  21. Two rival cities, each besieged by the other's mercenaries, little violence, each is involved in a protracted bidding war trying to buy out the others mercenaries, this has been going on for a while.
  22. Knife-fencing, a thick woolen blanket is wrapped around one arm as a shield, a knife in the other....
  23. At the printmakers shop, inky skeleton have clawed their way out of the woodcuts and are terrorizing the apprentices, somebody needs to lure them away!
  24. Ritual infrugality.
  25. Mad Meg (lass) (dulle griet) has lead her all-woman army to pillage hell.
  26. Painted ships all made of brass, that orbit astrologically.
  27. Giant crocodile carrying her human babies in her mouth.
  28. Paper lanterns with writing on them as an archaic form of neon sign.
  29. Darian Groy.
  30. Techno-Dwarves.
  31. HP is how many souls you've stolen, each time you suffer a terrible injury a soul evaporates like ablative armour, kill and eat peoples souls to regain HP and get stronger.
  32. The traditional peace offering gift among lizard folk is to offer up your own tail for the other parties consumption because this represents a great deal of food/energy given away combined with intimacy of offering up a piece of your flesh. 
  33. In addition to the above; long/big tails are seen as a sign of status and dominance but also (if interpreted so) of cruelty or refusal to see others as equals, lizard folk caricaturists often draw different politicians with shorter or longer tails as their opinion goes.
  34. Pig-folk armed with carbines riding upon baboon post-humans.
  35. A sword which beheads everyone within 10 meters when unsheathed, including the wielder.
  36. The empire is riven into warring provinces, the crown prince is presumed dead. But two different people claim to be the real crown prince and are mustering armies. One has even been declared the true heir by the princes widow. The fact that the prince was executed by cannon doesn't seem to bother either of them. 
  37. A key which inserted into the body, makes the chest unfold into panels allowing access to all of the organs and innards.
  38. Hiber-knights slumbering in their asteroidal vaults, rousing only in times of great crisis.
  39. Mail order stooge.
  40. Sepulcheracy, rule by those of the sepulchers (the dead perhaps). 
  41. Bicycle haruspex, divines the future from the gutted gears and chains.
  42. Wooden dummies hanged for absentee condemnations.
  43. A jar of computer keycaps floating in disinfectant = cyber potion.
  44. Post-apoc, the design for kalashnikovs has persisted, and the term 'akay' has become synonymous with automatic weaponry of any sort.
  45. A place like a storm drain or pillared cistern but its upper reaches are blinding light.
  46. A alien megastructure factory monolith is found and dragged back to the solar system, it makes ftl drives, one day it goes boom, no more earth/sol system and no more ftl drives, the scattered diaspora of man is left with what few ships they have.
  47. In Deb Lota violence is obscene, weapons are hidden from the world under thick cloth wraps, soldiers are considered sultry degenerates who wear heavy veils disguising them. 
  48. A metal coffin wrapped in chains carried upon a palanquin by collared slaves, a voice of ink and scratching nibs whispers from within.
  49. Crystal ships hovering above a city of red glass spires, squat forges, and slag pits.
  50. An rpg supersition : always include a rule in your game that lets you leave or end the game, lest you be perpetually trapped in a game by rules lawyering demons.
  51. Oldtech often requires a dna sample, usually no more than a thimble full of blood, unfortunately centuries of spotty translation leads to some wizards reading 'blood sacrifice' in their tomes and deciding to up and gut someone.
  52. The alien's ships are massive affairs, vast floating bricks and ovaloids. It's economics. Gravitics and neutronium annihilation plants don't come cheap and ain't subtle. Its easier to build a massive cargo ship to fly interstellar space then spring for a bunch of small ones.
  53. Adventure upon a squalid miserable guano island, revolting miners/slaves, cruel overseers, weird birds, foreign spies, home-brewed fertilizer bombs, general shenanigans.
  54. Item : a ring with a secret lighter built in.
  55. Knife scabbards that bend in sharp angles to display the wealth of the owner, the more unnecessary angles and bends the better. The scabbard is usually longer than the knife itself. 

Saturday, May 7, 2022

Swords, Sails, & Sorcery

Fafhrd and The Gray Mouser by Mike Mignola V1 by MrZkinandBonez on  DeviantArt

Sword and sorcery adventure upon the seas! Fafhrd and the Grey Mouser in the lands of Earthsea, with the colorful devonian wildlife of Ponyo.

Beneath the waves the ocean teems with prehistoric sea life. Devonian fish, coelacanths, sharks, pliosaurs, ammonites, trilobites. Giant leviathans, mosasaurs, and whales too. 

The strange isles range from coral atolls, to sweltering jungle mountains, to cold boreal rocks. Sunken cities abounded. Ruins hide themselves above and below water. 


Ponyo on the Cliff 崖の上のポニョ” Background Art | © Studio Ghibli* •  Blog/Website | (www.ghibli.jp) ☆ || CHARACTER DESIGN REFERENCES (ht… |  Ghibli art, Ponyo, Ghibli

1d10 Strange Places
  1. The sunken city of Ub, where you can peer down through the turquoise waters to see fish languidly swim ancient streets, some spires still pierce the waves allowing for descent into air pockets.
  2. Smoldering volcanic peaks belching fumes that trail across the horizon, said to houses temples to strange gods carven into the very bowls of their caldera. 
  3. The coral fortresses rising from the Thousandfold Atolls in a riot of colors. 
  4. Vertical jungles growing on a maze of sea-stack islands inhabited by tattooist-magicians. 
  5. A yawning pit beneath the water, like the inky blue eye of some antediluvian leviathan, punctuating an otherwise mundane reef, what do its depths hold?
  6. The impenetrable pink marble city of the Faceless Merchants who silently trade their fabulous riches for slaves, saltes, and alchemical ingredients. 
  7. A tangled floating market of galleries and barques moored above a seamount. 
  8. Whalefall city-states of the hagfish sorcerer covens deep in the abyssal depths.
  9. The crocodile infested deltas of Pag where the content people traffic in lotuses with outsiders.
  10. Far Inquonok to the north from which pale faced merchants sail to trade ivory and fur.
1d10 Strange Folk
  1. Dancing swordsman from the canal & ziggurat city, every cut and thrust is poised with symbolism and artful precision, they seek a paramour lost at sea.
  2. A fishy representative of the undersea kingdoms, attended by attendants constantly moisturizing him. 
  3. A salt witch, already succumbing to her magic's price, the cysts consume more of her each day.
  4. Runaway scholar of an obscure sect, hunted by stilt-walking assassins. 
  5. A man once drowned, now the host to an ancient abyssal star god. 
  6. A cannoneer from the southern reaches, babying slow-burning matches and the snarling spirit of an iron handgonne.
  7. A simple minded, burly roustabout and his clever octopus companion, touring the world.
  8. Barbarians from a foreign city who eat pungent vegetables which smell worse than corpses.
  9. Tattooed devil-eater, each inking represents another defeated demon, he is suspicious and boisterous.
  10. A burly thief and a slight barbarian duo, annoyed pawns of two mysterious sorcerers.
1d10 Strange Treasures 
  1. The basalt carved idol of the martial crab god, patron to wandering pugilists.
  2. Lockbox containing rare curative barks and herbs from a distant island beyond the known seas.
  3. Bronze panoply of a Urgish warrior with high feathered crest.
  4. Corked and wax sealed jugs of matured wine, salvaged from a shipwreck.
  5. Scrolls of thin aluminum inscribed with ancient spells.  
  6. Obsidian sacrificial dagger, sharp as a scalpel but brittle.
  7. Armful of hacksilver torcs accrued in hundreds of raids. 
  8. Ambergris from a leviathan belly, destined for the perfumeries. 
  9. Polished dunkleosteus skull, scrimshawed with the secret names of ancient pelagic spirits.
  10. Fermented squid caught in secret sea-caves, a delicacy of high order. 

Friday, April 29, 2022

Books I've Done Gone And Read

Being, as is previously stated, a list of books I've done gone and read and my miscellaneous thoughts upon them. 

The Three Musketeers (Alexander Dumas)


I'd attempted to read this several times before and succeeded in finishing this time. There's a perverse tragic hilarity to the story, most of the characters are often fairly awful people but are nonetheless entertaining. The whole thing meanders about, speeding up in places and rushing along before cooling and wandering once more. This varied between enjoyable and annoying for me, depending on how I felt about the particular chapter.

Milady is perhaps the best character, she radiates palpable fury, the first time we actually get a close look at her and hear her speak in the text she dashes a fan to pieces in rage. I'm not sure if any of her portrayals in film really match up to how I now imagine her.

After Milady, the lackeys are my favorite (and their absence in many adaptations is a tragedy of its own). They are often abused. Often comic. Generally oozing with character. You could very easily drop both one of the musketeers and their lackey into the setting and have an instantly working and dynamic set of npcs. 

The bastion picnic scene is fantastic. 

Dumas has a love for melancholic endings if the Count of Monte Cristo is anything to go on for comparison. Or perhaps it is merely the modern eye that turns the endings so melancholic? I am unsure. 

The Dragonmasters (Jack Vance)


A shorter novella that verges on dull at places but wins the day overall with several excellent concepts, a clutch of interesting characters (personally I found Ervis and his retinue to be the most entertaining), and some segments of engaging prose. 

It engages with one of my favorite tropes of humans warped and domesticated into utilitous forms by aliens, and adds a further dimension in classic weird fucked up sci fi fashion by having had the humans do the same right back to the aliens. And then to add to that invents an entire miniature system of warfare utilizing those alien ‘dragons’. 

The ending tantalizingly suggests the thought of writing a sequel charting some descendant Banbeck in their newly formed interstellar empire or some such.

I feel that the story would make for an excellent short comic.

Hawks of Outremer (Robert E. Howard)


I found the prose to be lacking in the requisite detail to have it read as historical fiction, instead coming across as a glossed over ‘vaguely medieval’ fantasy style. Which in turn failed to alleviate the prevailing orientalism. A pity, because I was quite hooked by the opening wherein Cormac recounts his various adventures prior to the story. And I find the way Cormac himself plows through the plot like a murdersome, bloodstained 18-wheeler to be quite entertaining. There are hints of a better story within, one that explores the knavish nature of nearly everyone involved in the late crusades through the lens of an amoral but ragefully loyal mercenary. Not Howard’s best, but not the worst either. 

Invisible Cities (Italo Calvino)


Calvino is evocatively philosophical, and the text is wonderful to engage in on a surface level of simply pillaging ideas or on a deeper, contemplative plane. I quite honestly need to read through it again, to parse some of the deeper meanings behind the matter of cities and their metaphysical natures. It's not hard, given the short length. I’d really love to get my own copy. The dialogue between Kublai Khan and Marco Polo alone is worth the price.

The Stars Are Legion (Kameron Hurley)


DNF 25%

I feel bad about not finishing this book, it was actually beginning to get enjoyable but I fell off it due to outside factors and haven’t picked it up to finish yet. The vagueness and angst early on in the story were frustrating, but once it gets rolling along and more details are revealed it's not as bad. There are of course, decaying meat-moons which already puts it on a high grade.

However, the description could have strove for greater decadence, chewiness, rather than the workmanlike prose it had. Perhaps this was intentional to match the barebones material culture (very little metal, everything's meat). But still some nice juicy descriptions of viscera would be good.

Nomads of the Time Stream (Michel Moorcock)


DNF at 2 stories out of 3

I didn’t finish, not for any particular reason, I simply didn't feel sufficiently inspired to wrap it up though I enjoyed the first two stories I read.

I contend that the best bit was the initial introduction which while steeped in orientalism had wonderfully evocative description as well as solid enough motivation on part of the protagonist to keep the story flowing (later on he just drifts about, rather a non-character and more just a viewing scope).

Besides the opening, I found the Land Leviathan to be more compelling than Warlord of Air. Its display of bigotry and atrocity is more direct and upfront, and its super science flows more believably (amusing given that it features giant city sized fortress ziggurats) thanks to the widespread, global altering nature. However, its examination of race and imperialism is still clumsy. 

All together a neat little read, not particularly inspiring (except for that opening segment in Teku Benga which was really well put together) but interesting, and certainly displays Moorcock's prose. 

Elric of Melnibone (Michael Moorcock)


When it comes to "antiheroes", particularly the kind prone to philosophizing it is often a coin flip whether they are insufferable or enjoyable. Fortunately Elric is the latter. His brooding, while grandiose, never crosses the threshold of frustration and elicits genuine sympathy. Whilst be contrasted deliciously against the cruelties of his station and people. 

Moorcock's prose is clear whilst being decadent in detail. The plot is a solid pulp fantasy yarn the way through. The aesthetics and environs are refreshing coming out of the current fantasy milieu, delightfully weird and sometimes incoherent as well. 

I'm half way through Sailor On the Seas of Fate as I write this. 

The Carpet People (Terry Pratchett)


A re-read. And well worth it. 

As time passes my love for novellas and shorter stories increases. Not everything (especially in fantasy) needs to be sprawling multi-tome epics. The Carpet People manages to accomplish an entire drama, with big climatic battles and all in a short space (which I am just now realizing is rather delightfully appropriate to the setting of the novel). It's exactly as long as it needs to be. A practice more books should adhere to (though of course it does require some skill on part of the writer).

There is classic Pratchett wit throughout and the characters are simple but endearing, the same going for the environs of The Carpet, which would make an excellent game setting. Miniature worlds in general are underutilized, perhaps a post is in order.  

Friday, April 22, 2022

Unicorn Meat - Review

Dan D (of the venerable blag, Throne Of Salt) has recently released Unicorn Meat an adventure about a rundown unicorn farm in the backwoods taken over by ex-indentured, feral young girls, and other horrible thing. And it is fantastic.  

***

The safety section <3

***

There is a very deep sense of….. coziness? Is not the right word, humanity perhaps. Familiarity? Closeness? Despite the horrid situation. The characters in the module carry a large part of this. So does the setting, something about the muggy backwoods crawling with terrible monsters rings a note within. It all feels horrible in a deeply human and sympathetic way as well as alien and terrible.

The vaguely late 19th century setting also interplays quite well with the aforementioned familiarity (I do not think the module would work as well reskinned for a more medieval time period, its really well-knit (you could make it work definitely, just not as well))

***

Im not really sure why the muggy backwoods with Appalachian folklore mixed with root magic borrowings speaks so deeply to my soul and feels so... familiar, given how removed my childhood is from such contexts. But damn does it have Vibes. 

***

Layout is clean, simple, and flows like butter. The pdf is nicely hyperlinked. Text is broken up and spaced out, you're never focusing on more than a paragraph's worth of text at a time. Terms and names are bolded. Makes for easy skimming.

Visually, the illustrations really tie up the whole module in a bow. The npc portraits ooze personality (and make for handy little play aids). Theres just enough illustrations in total to nail down the vibes in your head without prescribing or limiting your own portrayal of the farm. 

There's some moments of more flavorful layout (like some <Redacted> black bars) however they don’t interfere with readability or usability at all, which is excellent. 

***

The tables for character creation are excellent and just beg to be used in rolling up a party of carvergirls 

***

Hits this blend of folkloric and not-exactly science, but more ‘sciency’, horror. Mutations and witchballs. Old folk magic pulled up from Appalachia and the swamps blended with ‘this is not a place of honor’ monoliths of a long dead culture. 

***

Oddly strong tonal similarities to Deep Carbon Observatory, would pair excellently with each other.

***

There's also still a lot of mystery and open-endedness to the module, not everything is fully explained. Like what exactly the beast-below is, or why there's a bunch of seemingly metallic but actually crammed with meat technologies. It's artfully done, enough to keep nagging at the mind, and keep it mysterious, but never a roadblock to play.

There's a segment on legends, nothing immediately relevant to play but which drives home the mood, and fleshes the carvergirl’s culture out for anyone running them.  

***

Unicorn poop can be smoked to make you high (also all the other skinning unicorns for parts).

***

Minor point, the beginning of the caves section describes travel as taking 1d4 hours between locations and this makes sense for a portion of it (the tangled caves under the swamp) but not other parts like the pit.

***

Instantly infatuated with all the npcs. There's a lot of humanity, both sympathetic and cruel, crammed into them. I'm reminded of the better kinds of post-apocalyptic media, where everyones broken in some way, even the awful one’s, and the humanity of it strikes a cord. Everyone’s fucked up, but its clear that its this polluted place and the evils done there that's done it

Near the start of the module there's a list of “things to remember”, in that these two are the first ‘you know these people, everyone has a name” and “everyone has friends, everyone has enemies”. Which drives home some of the modules underlying tone. Things are fucked up but everyones people.

(This also makes the monsters stand out even more, their proper weird and messed up).

Oh and also very simple, and yet excellently done factionalism.

***

Art by Rowan A.

Pugs and Birdie are my favorites I think, all the characters are amazing but these two are my favorites. Something about their demeanors makes my heart go out to them. 

***

Everything about the nightwatch, their tree, and the witching hour. Proper folk-magic (and horror) vibes that meshes fantastically with everything else. I feel like there could be a bit more allusion to the witching hours existence in other parts of the module, but gosh is it good.

***

The descriptions through the module are extra evocative, and minimalist in just the right way. Tiles described as teeth is one of my favorite bits. 

***

Random generation of a hunting expedition via drawing from a deck of cards is mwah, very simple, easy to use, and a fun and different way of doing random gen. Kinda makes the generation feel more oracular and less mechanical as it might if you were just rolling on tables. 

***

A little thing, but a solid chunk of the npc portraits are smiling, it's not necessarily a happy (or well… normal happy) smile, but a goodly lot of them are smiling in some way, something which says a lot about the tone I think.

***

I'm not sure how I would run this module with adult player characters. It can definitely be done, feels a bit tricksy to navigate, gotta hit the right tone for interact with feral children trying to knife you. Carvergirl games definitely would run more naturally. Im eager to her the play reports eventually roll in. 

***

“At least it’s not a hippo”

***

White-Eyes plan is just really good, the kind of thing where players end up torn on weither to stop it, join it, or what. Deeply sympathetic and also clearly about to unleash some chaos. Also just excellent as conceptual weird-ass magic-science (I adore the description comparing the Theocarnequs to the Beast as a god to a leper).

***

All the other stuff I didn't remember to include or couldn't properly express while writing this.

***

This hasn't really been a very coherent post, ramblings mostly, cause its just a damn fantastic adventure. I'm defiantly going to spring for a physical copy eventually. 

The time is neigh! You too should go out and get Unicorn Meat. 

Monday, April 11, 2022

130 Weird Treasures From Across The Spheres


  1. An emperor's tea set that transforms into porcelain swans
  2. Arachnid woven tapestry, bulky, but eye-wateringly sublime
  3. Stack of golden arm rings forged from the war trophies of conquering lord
  4. Elegant carriage dubbed the silver phantom, it once propelled itself but no longer
  5. A river spirit trapped within a jeweled goblet, water cannot touch you
  6. Twin rings of beetle-esq design, whisper a message to it and it will fly away to find its partner
  7. Powdered quadracorn horn from the farthest burning savannas, cures impotency
  8. Immaculate suit of bone armour, parasitically fuels itself off the weavers lifeblood
  9. Packages of excellent, smooth, fine smelling soap
  10. Gem studded broad-belt of office stolen from some petty prince
  11. Skeleton warrior seeds, in neat little pouch
  12. Cultiver of a rare singing orchid, its melodies open the hearts of all present
  13. Careful forgeries of the Somnambulist Padishah’s official seals
  14. Egg sacks of the Century-Worm, a delicacy, a cure-all, a poison
  15. Panacea potion, healing, heartening, ever so addictive, red stained lips and little vials
  16. Gilded sub-machine guns, masterworks of Van Ranj the genius gunsmith
  17. Coins sewn together into an armoured shirt, proof of the owners mercantile prowess
  18. Fossilized trilobites made potent good luck charms
  19. Glowing greenish radioactive glassware, it's all the rage right now
  20. Powdered god-corpse brain matter to fuel sorcerous magics
  21. Seven salts distilled from the soul’s base chemicals to invigour 
  22. Cheaply bound pamphlets detailing obscure and somewhat useless martial arts
  23. Lifetime membership pass for the League of Fisticuffs, the name is someone else's
  24. Coat of dogs-wool that grants sure friendship with any canine beast 
  25. Gold & silver plate bound in enchanted twine
  26. Treatise on astral fauna, rare, damaged by the gut of the creature it was pulled from 
  27. Key to a door you never knew needed unlocking
  28. Portrait of a long lost duke, handsome, oddly melancholic
  29. Apotropaic lamp made in the grand necropolis to ward off unruly spirits
  30. Helm wired with cables and tubes, it grants extension of the mind and will
  31. Pocket watch set to tell the time on a dozen different spheres
  32. Simple pieces of chalk, anything drawn comes alive in chalk form
  33. Blade of the pontiff-executioner, it will only bite the neck of a rightfully condemned priest 
  34. Letters of free passage writ all githyanki held dominions
  35. Antique furnitures, thirteenth solar empire, polished mahogany, delicate joinery
  36. Cask of mulled devil’s liquor, it eats at the seals, smelling of motor oil and cinnamon
  37. Charts of the Astral inscribed on decaying papyrus, speaks in terms of dreams and allegory
  38. A crop of wizard lettuce, growing improbably in mouldering crate
  39. Iron sarcophagus bound in chains, a captured devil with an enormous bounty upon its head
  40. Bezoar extracted from a kamadan, compressed dreams and nightmares 
  41. Writhing baby astral eel trapped inside a glass and bone containment jar
  42. Exotic dyes, colors like none you’ve seen, in carefully labeled bottles
  43. Contraband souls hidden inside amphora, packed tightly, miserably, and diluted
  44. A godly fetus hovering in an metaphysical womb, minor miracles flow off it like mist
  45. Ice packed, insulated box of rare thalassic trench-squid, succulent beyond belief
  46. The precise measurements of all a sphere neatly jotted down in a little notebook
  47. Fashionable nudibranchs meant to be worn upon your clothes or doted upon as a pet
  48. Yards long necklace-shawl of lustrous pearls, each one representing the owners virtuous deeds
  49. Driftwood mask carved into a shark’s snarl that fills the viewer with instinctual unease
  50. Crown of delicately smithed gold shaped into flowers, thorns, and leaves
  51. An angle-knife which can cut passage between the reality’s corners 
  52. A tube of door-paste, half used up, smear it upon a wall to create temporary passage 
  53. Chirurgeon’s lacquered wood box, filled with delicate steel and silver instruments
  54. Serpentine golden torcs that seem to writhe when worn
  55. Manticore balm, rub to cure aches and pains of the joints and to relieve cursed hungers 
  56. Humorous engravings of a political nature likely to see imprisonment if caught with
  57. Cones of incense tailored to make spirits sluggish and sleepy
  58. Magnificently feathered and decorated hat that stuns onlookers and collides with door frames
  59. Sheaf of forger’s trick-paper that can be written upon twice, to show two differing things
  60. Midnight ink, made of pooled shadow, only harsh light can erase it
  61. Indecipherable twisted knot of letters peeled from the page, explodes if agitated 
  62. Clockwork toy, a little landship that marches on twirling legs
  63. Smoky blue glass spectacles that shows the immaterial world of spirits 
  64. Improbably deep wicker baskets made by hand
  65. Impudent machine-spirit locked inside a pyramidal prism, answers questions at a price
  66. Trunk of sekem, ducats, marks, and a thousand other coinage, heavy to lift, a small fortune
  67. Mobile throne carved with golden lion imagery, it walks about on its own plodding legs
  68. Ever-glowing argon lamps from the ancient paleotechnic dynasties
  69. Ceremonial copper-breaking club carved in the shape of a whale, symbol of authority 
  70. Levitating prayer rug, threadbare, floats up and down at the sitter’s command
  71. Void crystal decanter and matching cups, rings perfect notes when struck
  72. Jade figurine of a curled up vampire bat, fits in palm, heals injury by leaching from another
  73. Set of bronze armour, bull motifs, fills wearer with bovine strength but also rage
  74. The dice of a notoriously lucky gambler, always rolls your way, but are not loaded in any way
  75. Bag of catnip-laced kibble, hot item on the black market for the cat-kings 
  76. Flowering wooden phallus charm that imbibes great fertility into the owner
  77. Beautifully wrought iron sculpture of a twisting woman part-wolf 
  78. Colossal sturgeon, packed in ice, fit for a king’s feast 
  79. Bits of caddisfly made jewelry, encrusted tubes and shells of precious gems and gold flakes
  80. Jar of devilspawn stock, worth good money to a biomancer, little imps writhe vestigially
  81. Mottled protective suit of tardigrade-skin, incredibly resistant to the elements 
  82. Metal turtle brazier, remove the shell to add more fuel, always burns for twice as long
  83. Delicate beetle shell earrings, quite dashing
  84. Newfangled ink-pen, easy to write with, the quill-maker guilds will flay you for having it
  85. A crested carnyx, relic of some ancient campaign, still stirs with the moods of battle
  86. Leashed baku, secretly one of the Somnambulist Padishah’s many spies
  87. A slumbering paleodemon locked in thrice warded stone
  88. Spool of soul-tether snipped off some poor astral traveller, great for sewing immaterial things
  89. Miniature model of a temple complete with tiny praying priests, extravagantly detailed
  90. Vials of anti-sun matter, shine un-radiantly with darkness 
  91. Token of the guild of unseeming corners & assassins, good for one free assassination
  92. Occlusion needles, block the soul’s flow rendering limbs inert and severing spirit connections
  93. Paper parasol patterned with intertwined peacocks that seem to dance displaying feathers
  94. Portable cabinet filled with a chirurgeon’s expensive and rare medicines
  95. A claviger’s personal doorspace map, written in coded doubletalk within a little journal
  96. Sidesword of an astral pirate-queen, lucky red tassels hang from the pommel 
  97. Shard of archaic pottery, infested with dream-plague, draws to the dreamlands of dead world
  98. Velvet gloves so silky soft it almost doesn’t register that your touching them
  99. Fulgurous powder, thrice as volatile as black, carefully corked casks, anti-spark measures 
  100. Ghostly peppercorn, phantom cinnamon, a whole variety of spirit spices 
  101. Drinking cup in the shape of a curling fish with gaping mouth, blue-green and gold trim
  102. Box of hand rolled cigars, rare out-world tobacco enjoyed by the haughtiest of connoisseurs
  103. Fermentation demon trapped inside a clay jar of pickles, barters to be freed
  104. Silver wrought fox clasp, each hair on the fur lovingly detailed 
  105. A dram of crystallized luck, potent, warps reality round it
  106. Primordial sourdough starter, stolen from the vinegar knights
  107. Fur-coat of the rarest svelte seal, impossibly warm and soft, highly fashionable
  108. Cup carved from a solid emerald, decorated with elegant poetry, an emperor's prize
  109. Gold bars stamped with the seals of the 57th merchant house, will need to be removed
  110. Unguent box, paneled in ivory inlaid with precious gems, stinking ointments within
  111. Crooning phoenix in a brass cage, the fiery feathers it sheds fetch high prices
  112. Tapestry sewn from the tunics and coats of dead soldiers, a testament to battle
  113. Delicate lace, gloves, trim, collars, cuffs, tears all too easily
  114. Matching signet rings done up in gold and cinnabar, shaped like miniature knights
  115. Saint’s tears, bottled, wards off sin and protects from evil, reputedly
  116. Necromantic auto-chair, climbs about on mismatched boney legs, macabre in style
  117. Three ceremonial daggers in a crocodile foot sheathe, jade inlays 
  118. Casket ringed with golden llamas and studded with rubies
  119. Fireproof aluminum caftan, worn in the Hells to protect from cinderstorms
  120. Ghost-Leopard fur mantle, intangible, half-alive, spirits shudder in its presence 
  121. Golden ring, blossoming carnelian carved rose 
  122. Clay figure with a disproportionate apotropaic phallus, black ink decoration
  123. Side-sword, the hilt carved from ivory with a conglomerate of screaming skulls
  124. Spiraling gold arm band in the shape of a lusty, serpentine merman
  125. Juvenile hate-star in a lead lined casket, souls are pulled inward by its horrid gravity
  126. Crate of smuggled boltlocks, the maker's marks scratched off
  127. Flask for capturing spirits, etched with runes, lead stopper
  128. A writ for dreaming within an onierocrat’s kingdom
  129. Polish for the nails that traps a whispered secret when painted on
  130. Boxed set for an obscure pen & paper game, little dice and everything

Thursday, March 31, 2022

The Big Black Snake

A pipeline, hundreds of miles long, slithering across the landscape. Every creaking gasket of its many-jointed body leaks toxic sludge upon the earth. The ground churns, the plants wither, and the waters are poisoned with its passing. 

Its head is a mass of megaphones and televisions, bulldozer blades and backhoe scoops. Alternatingly chewing a path and whispering honeyed songs of 'job growth' and 'cheap gas' to merchants and statesmen, easing its passage. 

Minions, like melted riot police, oily black as tar, spawn from its leaking gaskets and move out in oozing phalanxes to beat back those that would stop the snakes progress. 

It will slither ever forward unless slain. Beware its children who nest in the bowls of refinery sprawl.

Big Black Snake 

10 HD, AC as plate, Save vs Churning Digging Equipment (head) or Crushing Coils (body)
  • Wants to slither onward, poisoning the land.
  • Spawns Tar Minions to protect itself.
  • Enlists the aid of the powerful with honeyed promises.

Tar Minions 

1 HD, AC as Ooze, 1d6 atck (club), 3d10+ appearing (work in blocks)
  • Like melted, oily riot police.
  • Unwaveringly protect the snake.
  • Use shield wall and encirclement tactics.
  • Dangerously flammable.

Friday, January 14, 2022

Simple d8 Weather

A man wearing a hat walks against the wind in a hail storm

To establish, either start with preexisting weather or roll a d8*, interpret high results as clear weather, low results as appropriate nasty weather (a table for this region might be handy), and middling results as indicative of upcoming weather; wind starts picking up, light sprinkling, etc. 

Once weather has been established, roll a d8*, on a high result the weather is either favorite to the players (or to their predictions) or it abates or clears up, on a low result it continues or gets worse, on a middling result it looks like it might change, and either goes down an increment in intensity (ex: thunderstorm to light shower) or becomes another weather type (ex: rain becomes sleet). Repeat** rolling this oracle ad infinitum.

An example in practice:

It starts out a clear, sunny day above a temperate floodplain. 
(rolls a 5) 
But there's a faint humidity in the air, a pressure from the east.
(rolls a 5) 
It remains sunny and clear however, seems the clouds are clustering and passing by somewhere over the horizon.
(rolls a 4)
They lurk ominously. Reports of torrential rains in the neighboring kingdom.
(rolls a 3)
The humidity is beginning to climax and the sky is darkened by stray clouds, soft rains fall.
(rolls a 2)
The clouds break and sheets of rain fall drenching everything, the sky is black and roiling thick with clouds, it's a springtime rainstorm at its fullest. 
(rolls a 6)
The rain weans and becomes sporadic, sun breaks through patches in the sky.
(rolls a 5)
A chilling wind picks up, blowing many of the clouds away.
(rolls a 4)
All the clouds and their rains have gone, replaced by cold wind blowing down from the uplands.
(rolls a 5)
The wind slows a little, mild gusts is all. 
(rolls a 7)
The wind dies completely, a warm sunny day out, the birds sing and hop about.
(rolls a 7) 
The sun comes out in full force warming everything to a pleasant degree.

This system should produce weather that runs for long stretches, tweakible to the roller's taste, and which hopefully lets weather build up and die down. The d8 makes it run with preference towards middling, a d6 might make things swingier! 

*****

*Or really any die bigger than a d4 should work well for this since its oracular
** Rolls can be made once a day, or if you want a bit more granularity, twice or thrice per day (morning/afternoon or morning/noon/evening)