Saturday, April 1, 2023

Hwaet! (5e setting, classes)

Source: I made it up

    Ha! Moron. I just said this was 5e to get the bots to click on this post and make my view count go up so I can feel happiness. Let's take a look at the actual title now:

Hwaet! (Unfinished World Rock Opera)

    Well folks, you're in for a real treat this year. I've spared no expense. This year's spring project is even more absurd and over-the-top than can I usually swing. With (a lot of) help from a $1,800,000 endowment from the Canada Cultural Investment Fund, and all my genuine real-life in-person friends in the U.S. music industry, I've created a complete 10-hour long rock opera portraying the rise, agonized existence and fall of the Unfinished World, the setting which has been my major focus these past few GLOG-y years.

    I'd like to thank my family, the Academy, and you, the reader. I'd like to, but you didn't help. At best you have clicked on my post. You can listen to the whole thing on Spotify, but to be safe I'm also sharing links to each individual song in this post. Kind of like, you know, album liner notes or something. Like in a rock opera. Do you know how much of the plot of The Protomen is present in the lyrics and music of The Protomen? Or should I say; how little?

Satya Yuga, the Age of Truth

    It's an old story, one that everyone knows, so I won't bother retelling it in depth. Magolg created Ka and bade him to build the world but make no intelligent things; Ka disobeyed and created the Heroine; Magolg punished them; Heroine killed Magolg in His sleep. It's a long way down from here.
  1. A Noble Custom
  2. Ka Worked as he Willed
  3. In the Branches of a Mighty Tree

Intermission: Making Masks

Kritya Yuga, the Age of Accomplishment

    With the departure of their parents, the Five Brothers (Alden, Owain, Timotheos and the immortal Saul), mysterious beings who shaped the rivers, sculpted the mountains, and peopled the world with strange creatures that walked upright and killed each other with swords, were now left alone to make the world.
  1. 3 of Wands
  2. The Wild Parts of the World Began to Fill with Towns and Roads
  3. 4 of Cups
  4. 10 of Swords

Intermission: The Cataclysm

Preta Yuga, the Age of Hunger

     The Brothers taught metallurgy, music and art, the calendar, and ruled as fair as G_ds can for Ages. Then they left. This has made a lot of people very angry and been widely regarded as a bad move.
  1. Worlds Not Built to Last 
  2. The One Who is Far Below
  3. Who Leaves the Path of Wisdom Dwells in the Congregation of the Dead Forever 
  4. Friends in High Places
  5. Death is Making Us His Food

Intermission: Orphan

Kali Yuga, the Age of Strife

    Aeshe, the Great Sage, the Lord of Mercy, the Last Prophet and the First of the Latter-Day Servants of G_d, the Model of Excellent Conduct and Merit, was born in the prison-orphanage of Karn. As a child growing up in a time of chaos and collapse Aeshe saw the worst mankind had to offer. As an adult he preached defiance to the Secular orders of the time. For his troubles, he was tortured by the old Empire; they gelded him and flayed him, they cut off his fingers past the first knuckle, and severed the tendons of his limbs; they pulled out his teeth, burned out his eyes, and slit his tongue so he would not again preach their sins.
    After all this, as a last act of cruelty, the Powers That Be bolted a steel mask on Aeshe's face such that he could move his head or open his mouth, and abandoned him in the gutters. There he was rescued by Jovan, a tavernkeep, who tended to his wounds. Jovan was Aeshe's voice for the fifty days it took for the Great Sage to starve to death.
    Of course, Aeshe's was not the only important tale of the 4th Age.
  1. The Lord of Mercy
  2. Unknown, Thankfully
  3. Jovan, a Common Man
  4. The Greatest Sinner of the Age
  5. Nosam, a Gladiator
  6. The Demagogue Speaks 
  7. Nosam's Cabal Slays the High Priest Johnathan with Burning Knives
  8. Riding North, Alone
  9. Information Deliberately Concealed
  10. Technically, Slavery
  11. Sources Differ
  12. By Process of Elimination 
  13. He Burned All His Commentaries and Notes, and Left
  14. Virginia, a Sage
  15. Shaped Like a Friend
  16. Marshal, a Prophetess (?)
  17. New Roads Through Res Nullius 

Intermission: Grail Quest

Maitreya Yuga, the Age of the Mahdi (the Ready One, the Rightly-Guided, the Good Friend, the Master)

    The Green Heretics have a lot of prophecies about him (?), they're waiting for a lot of signs. They'll know it when they see it. When the Messiah comes, you won't have much time left. Very few will escape.
  1. Born Under a Bad Sign
  2. What Thoughts Play Behind Those Eerie, Inhuman Eyes?
  3. Favor of All Five
  4. Shining Eyes
  5. Rejected by Secular Authority
  6. His (?) Last Action Depicted is to Dig a Very Large Hole 
  7. Drawing the Sword from the Stone
  8. The World Liquefies 
  9. Two of Every Kind of Animal 

Intermission: Rope and Old Lumber City

Samudrolanghana Yuga, the Age of Sail

    This Age defies easy description. How do you describe a world with no world? The last loyal hound will be abandoned in Hell, or so the prophets say, and the black water will swallow up the sun, and the great egg of the universe will shatter, and we will have all gotten what we had coming.
  1. Without the Continuity of Thought, Without the Passing of Time, No Breath can be Taken

Thursday, March 30, 2023

d20x5 Raffish Ronins

    This post is part of a draft swap with friend-of-the-blog semiurge, in the style of one his worryingly-numerous and continually-multiplying d20x5 lists. I'm not altogether confident in this strange button generation technology, so if it doesn't work then simply roll your d20s by hand like we used to do in the motherland.

Source: Samurai by KidKazuya

This Ronin’s Master...

  1. ascended to a higher state of existence, leaving their servants behind.
  2. died in their sleep, and this ronin fled before they could be buried alive with the rest of their lord’s retinue.
  3. was killed by venomous treachery, and the ronin seeks evidence for an indisputable accusation.
  4. went mad, and this ronin assassinated them before they could do abhorrent harm.
  5. faked their death and fled their responsibilities.
  6. was erased from everyone else’s memory by vile magic while an imposter took their place.
  7. cast them aside for disobeying an order.
  8. was forced to commit suicide for insulting a daimyo.
  9. was killed by a stray arrow on the battlefield.
  10. was mauled by a bear on a hunting trip.
  11. was struck by lightning out of the blue, and this was generally taken as an omen of some secret iniquity.
  12. was fatally cursed by a sorcerer whose community they persecuted.
  13. was poisoned by an alchemist who claimed to possess the elixir of immortality.
  14. disowned them after scapegoating them for their heir’s scandalous behavior.
  15. was revealed to be three much-smaller masters in a trenchcoat.
  16. had himself beheaded in a successful bid to humiliate a hated rival.
  17. wandered far into the dark lands, and did not return.
  18. returned home to Alabama after a semi-failed insurrection.
  19. died gruesomely in a plague that took the lives of all his family and all other servants.
  20. doesn't even know the ronin is gone yet.

This Ronin Might Be Found...

  1. drowning their sorrows in drink.
  2. as hired muscle for a local gang.
  3. working as a bodyguard for some middling elite.
  4. protecting a village from bandits in return for food and shelter.
  5. picking fights with anyone who looks at them funny.
  6. throwing fights in an illegal gladiatorial ring.
  7. contemplating falling leaves.
  8. meditating beneath a waterfall.
  9. observing people going about their daily lives.
  10. boiling rice in their helmet.
  11. training a local militia.
  12. diving for something shiny they spotted.
  13. trying to negotiate with prostitutes for a discount.
  14. honing each of their weapons and tools to a razor-edge.
  15. worshiping silently at an off-the-beaten-track temple.
  16. sucking up to a real samurai.
  17. slicing a tall young tree as many times as they can before it falls, to keep themselves fast.
  18. punching a gnarled old tree as many times as they can before their hands break, to keep themselves strong.
  19. painstakingly copying the beautiful calligraphy of a book they can't read.
  20. gorging themselves on abandoned stew after slaying a camp of bandits.  

This Ronin’s Sword and Armor...

  1. are cheap but well taken care of. They had to sell their old stuff to survive, and couldn’t afford decent replacements
  2. are decorated with fish motifs.
  3. are a household object repurposed for combat.
  4. are plated with silver.
  5. are painted with a crimson lacquer.
  6. have been folded from alchemically-hardened paper.
  7. are mostly for show, as the ronin is a master of Sumo and Judo, and prefers to fight with teeth and bare knuckles.
  8. are antiques stolen from a shrine.
  9. are made from the steel-hard heartwood of a ten-thousand-year-old tree.
  10. were stolen from them while they slept by a gang of orphan-urchins. They’ve made due since with a walking stick and several layers of rags and saddle-leather.
  11. are loaded with hidden, spring-loaded blades that pop out with great force if subtle buttons and switches are pressed.
  12. bear the maker’s mark of a legendary smith.
  13. are covered with rust now that the ronin has abandoned their pride.
  14. were made by their father to slay a dragon he didn't live long enough to challenge.
  15. are sharp and hard as broken glass, and must be used with great delicacy.
  16. smell strongly of the strange wood of the far-off land they hail from.
  17. are studded with paste jewels.
  18. are covered with checker-marks. They cut a new line for every kill.
  19. shine like moonlight when a secret word is spoken
  20. are sized for the straight-backed, well-muscled samurai they were, not the crooked half-starved wretch who now carries them.

This Ronin’s Hobby is...

  1. writing bad poetry.
  2. whittling wooden solder figurines.
  3. gambling.
  4. bird watching.
  5. landscape painting.
  6. moonlight strolls.
  7. playing their flute.
  8. fishing.
  9. rucking. 
  10. tending a small garden.
  11. baking sweets.
  12. teaching lapdogs to perform entertaining tricks.
  13. flower arrangement.
  14. womanizing.
  15. tsujigiri.
  16. feeding stray cats. 
  17. screaming. 
  18. hunting ghosts.
  19. studying the history of war
  20. waiting in a tea-shop for someone to hire them.

This Ronin's Enemies Include...

  1. a fellow ronin and his sometimes-lover.
  2. a fiercely dishonorable demon-crow.
  3. the remnants of a bandit clan their master once ordered them to wipe out.
  4. a young warrior with prodigious talent who considers the existence of ronin to be a stain on the land.
  5. their own spouse, who has sworn to kill the ronin to avenge their dishonor.
  6. an evil centipede that can pilot people’s bodies by slithering into their intestines.
  7. a giant octopus that has learned martial arts, and also how to hate.
  8. a legendary chef, whose greatest dish (a curry that takes six years to make) was carelessly ruined by the ronin during a chase-scene.
  9. a gang of kung-fu students who have fixed on the ronin as a decent target to repeatedly beat the shit out of.
  10. the ambassador of a far-off kingdom, for nefarious reasons of her own.
  11. a family of hungry ogres who want to make them into soup.
  12. their child, who is a better samurai than they ever were.
  13. a pirate ship that descends with fire and slaughter on any river- or sea-side towns which dare to harbor (heh) the ronin for more than a night.
  14. the new student of the ronin's old mentor, sent to kill them to clear the teacher's reputation.
  15. the cruel gods above, for no reason at all.
  16. a headless horseman armed with a slaver's lash and a blazing torch. 
  17. the ghost of an enemy warrior who refuses to believe he has lost.
  18. a nightmare-nation of rat-men from the Wicked Lands.
  19. a seething magic-user whose affections the ronin once spurned.
  20. their face in the mirror, marked as it is now with care-lines and shadows.

Sunday, March 19, 2023

41 Feasts (GLOG Setting)

    At the beginning of the world, where the labyrinth starts, in the first segment of the maze, it is always night. The stars are huge as thumbnails held at arm's length, but so dim that their light makes the silver sand seems black. If you follow the trail of footprints back through the otherwise-trackless wastes, you come to two huge pillars of featureless stone reaching to heaven. The footprints lead back between them, but you can follow them no longer, not without losing yourself in the dark and getting turned around.

    Each intelligent creature in the world, or their ancestor, came walking through that gateless gate with no memory of a life before. Having nothing better to do, and no other idea of the way, they followed the footprints through the waste, and walked until they came to a great sheer barrier of rolling silver fog, and, passing through, so came to the second part of the world-maze, the second segment of the unmeasured labyrinth, the second division of a total that has never been numbered.

    You, too, have come through that gateless gate. You have clothes on your back, and maybe a pocketful of strange coins, or a belt with a knife or a torch. You have no memories except darkness and sand. And yet, somehow, you know a few things beyond any possibility of doubt:
  • The desert is the first section of many of the Labyrinth
  • The Labyrinth has only one path
  • The sections of the path are separated by locked gates
  • Progression is the purpose of humanity 
  • Who stops progressing forfeits their humanity 
  • Who unlocks the last gate reaches the center of the Labyrinth
  • Who reaches the center of the Labyrinth wins

    Of course, different people have different interpretations, and their children yet more so, and their grand-children yet more so, on and on. Many different schools of thought have arisen as to the origin and the purpose of the Labyrinth; here are just a few.
  • Three-Eyed Giant
        A million-billion years ago (or thereabouts) the Three-Eyed Giant made the world alone. He did this to create a test of sorts for the adventurers he knew would come. Each region of the labyrinth, therefore, has a puzzle to solve or an enemy to destroy in order to show you are worthy of reaching the center where the Giant waits.
        Whoever reaches the center will be granted their truest wish.
  • Forty-One
        The forty children of the Easter Mother wanted to create a world, but fought amongst themselves as to how they would do so. They appealed to their mother, who in her wisdom ruled that each child would create their own part of the world (and so the Labyrinth has forty sections, you see). The children, tired, fell asleep after all their hard work, and if they have not been waked then they sleep still.
        The Easter Mother is also sleeping. The one who reaches the center can wake her, and begin the creation of the world anew.
  • Snake
        Lindurmr; he coils. Nithogr; he bites. Fafnir; he takes. The World is a Snake and the Snake is So Hungry. It has been Oh, So Long since he has Eaten anything worth Eating. Please; take the Vow, shed your Skin, Eat as many things as will fit into your Mouth, and journey to the center of the world to throw your body down to the Mouth of The Snake. Please. Please. 

    Any character, from any system, is acceptable so long as they start at level 1 and can reasonably hope to level-up by adventuring. You all start from nothing, walking through the gateless gates and on through the desert.

    The Labyrinth is essentially a gigadungeon (a structure which is to megadungeons as megadungeons are to the blueprint of a house). Each section is a tiny world in itself, a couple of six-mile-hexes wide, a couple more six-mile-hexes long. Each section has its own laws of physics and nature, its own rules of magic, its own ecosystem, its own day/night cycle, its own dungeons, its own civilizations. Civilizations in the Labyrinth are descended from those who voluntarily forfeited their humanity and chose to remain; adventurers who settle down in such places quickly adapt both culturally and biologically.

    At the beginning and end of each section of the Labyrinth is a great sheer barrier of rolling silver fog. Plants, animals, or monsters cannot pass through these barriers, only people can. And people can only pass through these barriers after successfully "navigating" the current section. Exactly what "navigating" a section means is unique to the section. Section #1, the Trackless Waste, is navigated by simply reaching the barrier — the desert is littered with the bones of those who came through the gateless gate before the footprints were clear enough to follow. In another section, you might have to explore a huge temple complex and lay your hand-analogs on the altar at its heart. In another, you might have to help the moon fall in love with the sun before you can pass.

    In the earlier sections there are people who have already navigated or heard from those who have, and they can point you in the right direction. As you continue, navigation becomes more complicated, and your fellows become more competitive and less helpful. Turning back (that is, traveling to a previously-navigated section) brings with it the risk of forfeiting your humanity, so there are pretty strict gradations of HD and Level.

   Sections where city-sized chains hang from the ceiling over a burning furnace. Sections that are frozen. Sections where light cannot shine. Sections only navigable through sacrifice. Sections full of doubtful whispering voices. Sections where you are hunted. Sections where you die if you break the silence. Sections where the dirt is gold and the trees are ruby and everyone has colossal tits.

    That's about all I have to say about 41 Feasts. The setting was based on a dream I had several years ago now. I don't know what exactly I'll do with it, if anything. I just wanted to write it up so that I'll still remember it several more years from now.

    Snake cultists eat each other by the way. That was really important to the dream. They can eat each others' corpses, but they're perfectly happy to eat each other alive or just murder each other to get a decent meal. Their eyes glow blue, and they can sense the presence of other cultists. I think they might burn when they touch silver? It really seems like a shitty deal, to be a snake cultist.

Tuesday, March 14, 2023

Spaceships of the System

     Inspired by friend-of-the-blog Archon's excellent work on Orbiters Local 519 (print copy here), and recently reminded of this project by Skerples' sci-fi thoughts, I've been reworking a very old setting of mine. It's a sci-fi sword-and-planet sort of thing, leaning towards the oiled-up-barbarian side of the He-ManBlindsight axis and standing with Kirk in the middle of the John CarterTNG axis.

    Hey! Hi, author here: I was so amused by the idea of the chart I described in the paragraph above that I spent two hours assembling it and arguing about it on Discord. Here it is. If you disagree, leave an angry comment and I might update the chart/insult your mother and your intelligence.

I don't like the terms "hard sci-fi" and "soft sci-fi", I find them imprecise and obfuscating, for reasons I shan't repeat in this caption but will gladly elucidate if you buy me a beer.

    But how do you go about explaining a setting? Off the top of my head, I can't think of any tabletop "setting guide" I really enjoyed or found interesting, especially not before playing the damn game. Information I must choke down is never satisfying. So instead of a big timeline and a long list of events, I'll be cutting the "guide" into some big chunks of (maybe) useful player information.

    The System is, obviously, a solar system. It's made up of dozens of life-bearing planets, with almost as many intelligent species, orbiting a subgiant star named, unimaginatively, "the Sun". The System's civilizations have been spacefaring for a few centuries, but tech level is still well below that of Star Wars — it's a bit like the Honor Harrington books, if you've read those. No glowing energy shields, no talkative robots, no demigod AI, no traveling to other solar systems, combat largely centered on torpedo salvos (love a salvo) and railgun broadsides (love a broadside) and boarding actions (love a good boarding action). If you want to matter in the System, you've got to get a ship.


  1. Spaceship Boats. Spaceships aren't fragile collections of exchangeable modules (like modern spacecraft and the ISS), they are big boats. They're built once as a big solid hull with a front end and a back end, and then they're basically the same thing forever. A spaceship might pass between many captains over decades and decades of service, until it meets with catastrophe or the maintenance costs grow too high, and then it's scrapped. You know, like a boat.
  2. Space Submarines. Spaceships are specifically like the kinds of boats that go around under the sea, sometimes called unterseeboots. Most of them are cramped, overbuilt pressure chambers where the expected fail-state is "irretrievably lost with all hands".
  3. Cassette Futurism. Spaceships are driven around by pilots with minimal artificial assistance, mostly from analog instruments. Space stations are run by people, not AI. Most problems can be solved with a wrench and a slide rule. There are no touchscreens.
  4. Artificial Gravity. It exists in a lot of sci-fi, but I feel like pointing it out.
  5. Fuel is Valuable. Most spaceships run on chemical rockets, which need fuel to operate. Control of that fuel is control of space. 
  6. Interplanetary Travel is Slow. Transit times are long. Even with spaceships several times faster than our earth-rockets, traveling to a different world will take you weeks or months. 
  7. Interplanetary Space is Big. This is a corollary to the last point. The harder it is to move around, the harder it is to find someone or chase down a lead or explore an unsettled world, and the easier it is to hide yourself or get lost forever.

    While I've got you, I should mention that a "ship" has the fuel and life support capacity to travel between planets, while a "boat" does not. Carry on.


     Any numbers given for crew-count assume a military vessel. The complement on civilian ships is typically less than a quarter of that of military ship of comparable size, because they don't expect major repairs, long duties at battle-stations, boarding actions or the need for replacements. Pirate ships are usually stuffed to the gills (often twice the complement or more) for all the opposite reasons.
  1. Destroyer 
    A destroyer is any warship (i.e. a ship for fighting ships) which is shorter than 100m. Usually crewed by fewer than 300, without a complement of boarders. Doesn't carry its own depot (material for maintaining the ship and crew) so needs a tender. Any pirate would be proud to fly a real destroyer as his flagship, while planetary governments have dozens of them and the Lithians have so many they use them for policing.
  2. Cruiser
    100m to 300m, 300 to 800 enlisted. Ships of this size usually have a complement of borders, and this is the the sweet spot for a large ship to carry its own depot. Most ships large enough to have a shuttle bay will, but cruisers are large enough to carry (that is, maintain and support) at least one or two fighters, and some are purpose-built to carry dozens. These are the largest ships built in most navies.
  3. Battleship
    It's absurd to build a ship larger than a cruiser (300 meters is more than big enough), or have a larger crew complement (often into the mid to high 1000s). It's impractical to carry multiple battalions of boarders, and squads of engineers, and dozens of fighter craft, and multiple batteries of guns each of which could pound a destroyer into scrapmetal. Nobody actually needs a battleship, but golly, they're fun to have. 
  4. Tender
    A fat little ship not built for combat, usually between a destroyer and a cruiser in size, with plenty of depot and probably a few bays for smaller craft. Every fleet has a few of these tagging along. They're comparable to civilian cargo ships, except typically slightly smaller, and fast enough to keep up with the ships they tend to.
  5. Corvette
    Forget what else you might have heard: in the System, a "corvette" is a small ship, typically around 30m with fewer than 30 crew, with interplanetary capability. It's so tiny that it can probably haul its own depot around behind it in a cargo crate. Were a corvette to have comparable weapons to a destroyer it would be a destroyer (albeit a small one) by definition; and therefore, also by definition, corvettes are underequipped for real naval action.
  6. Gunboat
    A "gunboat" is a small ship, typically around 30m with fewer than 30 enlisted, with the armament of a destroyer and without interplanetary capabilities. They are by far the most common combat ship in the System, since it's much easier to put a gun or a rack of torpedoes on a boat than to equip it for months-long journeys between planets.
  7. Fighter
    A fighter is a very small ship, typically around 10m with fewer than 10 enlisted, and sometimes only crewed by a lone pilot. The line between a large fighter and a small gunboat is thin, but gunboats typically have more volume dedicated to fuel reserves and so have deployment times measured in days, while fighters (being smaller, and mostly guns by weight) have deployment times measured in hours. The line between a fighter and a shuttle is clear: a fighter can blow you up tae fuck.
  8. Shuttle
    You know what a shuttle is, darn it. It can't travel between planets (if it could it would be a small corvette), but it can probably travel between lunar and terrestrial orbits.
  9. Capital
    A name sometimes given to the most titanic of battleships, with nations of crew, armies of boarders, facilities for refitting destroyers, independently a threat to stations and major planetary installations. Only a few ships in the System have been called a "capital", all of them built for the Lithian navy.

Not all planets (in fact, not even every major polity) is marked on this map. There are dozens more, and dozens of dozens of more moons and dwarf planets and asteroid belts and so forth.

Frequently Asked Questions:

So how does this artificial gravity you mentioned work?

    Artificial gravity comes from an advanced application of a field of science called Phantom Acceleration. To simplify things down to powerpoint levels: your ship has a very large electromechanical flywheel made out of very dense material. It hovers in the air in a room of your ship, a little ways off from the main body, on a cushion of magnetism. When the ship needs to turn in place without using maneuvering thrusters it clamps onto the flywheel ("clamping" with magnets; physically touching the flywheel would have explosive results) and spins gyroscopically. When the ship needs to apply artificial gravity to its passengers, it bleeds angular momentum off of the flywheel (this is the "phantom acceleration") and applies a downwards force to the contents of the hull and an equal upwards force to itself.

Isn't that impossible?

    Yes. I am describing something like a Gyroscopic Inertial Thruster, which is a type of reactionless drive that has never had any measurable function in laboratory environments.

Isn't that incoherent?

    You're incoherent.

No I mean, all that technobabble sounds like a bunch of vague science words from someone who got an F in Physics 1

    I got a D in Physics 1, thanks.

Does this mean I can fly around using only artificial gravity i.e. is this a reactionless drive?

    Yes, that's what I literally just said.

Does this mean I can fly around forever i.e. is this a perpetual motion device?

    No, moron, didn't you read the description? The artificial gravity comes from the momentum of the flywheel. Applying artificial gravity slows the flywheel down. Eventually it needs to be spun up again; around these parts they use big frightening super-electro-magnets to do this, and it's a pretty common thing to get your phantom accelerator topped up while you're refueling at a port and doing other maintenance things.

Does this mean I can deflect bullets and lasers i.e. is this a forcefield?

    Kind of, since you can create a "field" where "force" is applied. You can use phantom acceleration to push back against impactors or reduce/nullify the effects of a collision on your crew. This makes explosive shells preferable to cannonballs, typically, and makes ramming with a reinforced prow not a completely insane thing to do with your spaceship.
    Phantom acceleration operates on electromagnetism, so you can't apply it to things outside the conductive hull of your ship — unless you're a Phoban and do that anyway because you are terrifying and your understanding of the technology is decades ahead of anyone else.

You got any other bullshit you made up?

    Lots. Try this on for size: Very Low Density Nacreous-Boron Ceramic. Low Density Nacreous-Boron Ceramic. Nacreous-Boron Ceramic. High Density Nacreous-Boron Ceramic. Very High Density Nacreous-Boron Ceramic. You like that? I can go on forever. Ultra High Density Nacreous-Boron Ceramic. Extremely High Density Nacreous-Boron Ceramic.

So what happens if Devious Creepers hack your ship? Can they turn the gravity off? Flip it upside down? Flatten everyone? That sounds like a security vulnerability

    Yeah, they can do all of those. If they're in control of your ship they can also flush reactor coolant out the air ducts, or set the engines to fly you into the sun or out of the system, or blow up your torpedoes in your battery. Don't get pwned by people who mean to kill you.

Weird Types of Ship:

  1. Steelnosed Lifepods
    Standard lifepods are a coffin with a radio and an air filter. Some, less ethical or more devoted, navies have been known to equip theirs better, with things like fighter thrusters, torpedo tubes or small beam arrays. In extreme circumstances you can always weld some scrap onto the end and use them as improvised missiles, guided or unguided — hence the name.
  2. Shrike
    A Shrike is a model of narrow bullet-shaped destroyer with one major spine-mounted cannon., built for long service in far orbits, not for comfort or for evasive maneuvers. They can clamp magnetically onto other Shrikes to allow crew to circulate and assist in the operation of other ships. These tangled nests of cannons and desperate pirates were iconic images of the second Battery War, and the vast majority of Shrikes produced are officially unaccounted for.
  3. "The Koss Transport"
    The Koss make and fly in other kinds of ships, of course, but when you mention "the Koss transport" people know you're talking about their armored VIP shuttles, with hull thickness measured in meters and antigravity systems to reduce the effect of impacts on passengers to nil. They were originally built for combat around the cloud-cities of Eos, which is why they have no exterior armament or propulsion of any kind. Have you ever accidentally ignited an atmosphere made up of 3% metallic hydrogen by volume?  
  4. Biological Space Laboratory
    The System is full of planets, and those planets are full of creatures, some friendly, some unfriendly, some sapient — it's not always easy to tell which. A BSL is historically the third thing the Lithians send to explore a new planet, the first being a destroyer and the second being a destroyer tender. Each is slightly different, but they generally follow the same pattern of smaller hulls containing various artifical biomes orbiting a battleship-scale central hull for the biologists and their equipment.
  5. Face of Darkness
    The name is a single word in the agglutinative language of the Phobans who build these enormous battleships. They look like concentric, hypnotic rings-within-rings, as large as a station, and usually as heavily populated. They dart at impossible g with no reaction mass; the Phobans are masters of phantom-acceleration. Gravitic shielding tosses debris or kinetic projectiles out of the path of the ship, and technically makes it invisible from one direction, though if you know what you're looking for the whopping great cone-shaped void is obvious from a long ways off.

Thursday, March 9, 2023

It's Never Just a Mannequin (Metatron Spell List)

The Goals of the Company as laid out in its Founding Charter:

    First: to maintain peace and security; to that end, to take effective measures for the prevention and removal of threats to the peace, and for the suppression of breaches of peace, and to bring about, in conformity with the principles of justice, final settlement of situations which might lead to such breaches.

    Second: to achieve international co-operation in solving international problems of economic, social, cultural, or humanitarian character, and in promoting and encouraging co-operation without distinction as to race, sex, language, or religion.

    Third: to be a center for harmonizing the actions of all people in the attainment of these common ends.

Source: I have no fucking clue. What is this? Where did I get it?

    The Metatrons are sadly not played as often as I'd like. Perhaps they're a little too "out there", a little too "weird", a little too "cool", a little too "original", a little too "brilliant work Michael, you're a genius". People have been saying that.

    Anyway, over the past couplea years (holy damn it's been three years since 2020) I've thought of a few more Metatron spells (they're called "procedures", and their magic dice are called "memory dice" because I'm a freak like that). The theme to the Metatrons, their "vibe" if you will, is common schizophrenic delusions, gangstalking tropes and CIA conspiracies come to life. I guess it's a good sign that I wrote the first 12 procedures in an afternoon and the next 12 over thirty-six months.

    Thanks as always to the friends of the blog, who you can find on my sidebar over there ->. Not all of those people are my friends, but they're all good blogs. It's four in the morning and I have to wake up in three hours to drive to work because I am an adult

d12 Metatron Procedures:
  1. Bixby's Mouth
    R: 200' T: an unoccupied space big enough to fit a horse D: [dice] minutes
    You create a hovering, ethereal, and faintly-luminescent mouth in the target area resembling your own jaws, teeth and lips but an order of magnitude larger. The mouth moves through the air at walking speed. You control the mouth by moving your own head and craning your neck; doing this in combat completely occupies your turn. At the end of the duration, or if the mouth leaves the range of this spell or reaches 0 HP, it vanishes with a pop.
    The mouth has AC as plate armor, [sum] hitpoints and a strength bonus equal to [dice]. It can bite as a massive weapon, can fly while carrying an object as or less heavy than a child, and is capable of fine manipulation with its lips (of e.g. handles of doors and pages of books).
  2. Cloudkill
    R: 200' T: a sphere 20' in radius D: [sum] minutes
    Target volume is filled with thick, obscuring yellow fog. The fog deals [dice] damage every breath to creatures inside it. Creatures passing through or attempting to escape the fog must save or become turned around and confused. Creatures that die in the cloud have their teeth removed and destroyed, their fingerprints burned off, and their faces badly bruised.
  3. Teleport
    R: 10' T: an empty space large enough to fit an elevator car D: one minute.
    Target space is filled with a large metal frame with sliding steel doors. Passing through the doorway takes you to another point of your choosing in the same region (town, county, hex) at 1 [die], same country at 2 [dice], same continent at 3, anywhere in the world at 4, or anywhere not in the world at 5 [dice]. You pop out of an identical door. Different people can pass through the same door but go to different places.
    Passing through the doorway is very dangerous, because you are moving through the mouth, digestive tract and anus of something very large and very hungry that very much wants to eat you. It's a good idea to occasionally feed it a human body, just to keep on its good side.
  4. Grease
    R: 60' T: a [dice]*5' square D: [dice] minutes
    If cast on an area, creatures that attempt to move across it must save or be forced to continue moving until they collide with something or the duration ends. They are fully aware this is happening, and may call for help, but are unable to stop themselves of their own volition.
  5. Passwall
    R: 5' T: a wall less than [dice]*10' thick D: one minute
    You flash your I.D. and step through a fire exit, employees-only door or maintenance passage. It takes you and anyone who wants to follow you through the wall unobtrusively. Don't worry if you don't think you're carrying I.D; you are. Don't worry if you don't see a door; there will be one. It won't be there when you look again. We put them in every wall just in case we need them.
  6. Mage Armor
    R: touch T: a creature D: one hour
    [dice] other illusory bodies sprout from the target creature. An attack against the creature has equal odds of hitting the real body or any of the illusions, which disappear in a shower of illusory gore when they are struck. An area-of-effect attack, such as a dragon's breath, immediately destroys all the illusions.
  7. Seen Servant
    R: n/a T: n/a D: [dice] days
    You summon a ghastly assistant to help you with your work. It appears human, though it lack a face, can speak any language you can, and fake any other badly. You are nominally its master, but it is intelligent enough to reinterpret your orders, and it often prioritizes tormenting dogs and children over discretion.
    The servant moves veeeeery slowly while in view of others, though (like a spider) it seems to be able to either teleport or sprint silently while unobserved. It is slightly better than you in every skill, check, test or vital statistic — take your character sheet and add 1 to every number. At the end of the duration, or upon reaching 0 hitpoints, the servant dries up and lies on its back with its limbs crossed, providing [dice] rations of chewy protein.
  8. Fly
    R: touch T: up to [dice] creatures D: [sum] minutes
    Name a point while touching target creatures. They are carried far into the air, then move (at about crowd-surfing speed) towards the point. When the spell ends, or when they reach the point, they are lowered safely to the ground. If they are wearing tight clothing, the prints of large six-fingered hands are visible on their bodies for the duration
  9. Control Weather
    R: n/a T: the invisible weather-controlling machine in the sky D: one week
    You make contact with the invisible weather-controlling machine in the sky. Its controllers make a reaction check against you, with a bonus equal to [dice]. For the duration, weather in the region is influenced by the result; with a poor reaction the weather works against you, with a good reaction it is more cooperative. You can't use this procedure again until the duration is complete.
  10. Web
    R: 20' T: a 10' cube between two solid surfaces (walls, ceiling, floor, trees &c) D: [dice] days
    Target volume is filled with strong, sticky webbing. Creatures or objects that contact the web become tangled. Tangled creatures or objects can be freed with a successful strength check; on a failure, they are tangled again. The strength check is made with a penalty equal to how tangled the creature or object is.
    For each [die] invested in this procedure, you may choose one of the following:
    • the web is invisible
    • tangled creatures or objects are invisible
    • tangled creatures or objects are silenced
    • the web is particularly sticky and tangles twice on contact or a failed strength check
    It takes ten minutes of work with a sharp tool to clear a path through the web wide enough for a human to pass. The web is not particularly flammable, but it shrivels in fire, so a burning torch can clear a path in 5 minutes and cannot become tangled
  11. Spider Climb
    R: touch T: a creature D: [dice] minutes
    Target sprouts [sum] big hairy spider legs. Four legs allows you to balance on any object that can bear your weight. Eight legs allows you to climb sheer walls. Twelve lets you sprint like a horse, and sixteen lets you climb on ceilings.
  12. Airstrike
    R: 200' T: a point you can see D: instant
    Within [worst] rounds, an exploding shell fired from an artillery crew off-screen strikes the target. It deals [sum] damage to all unprotected creatures within [dice]*20' unless they pass a save (we're dealing with Soviet-era munitions here, and they're not particularly reliable). If you're underground the shell hits somewhere up above you and causes unseen damage to civilian targets.

Tuesday, February 7, 2023

Slush Pile 1

    Here's a big slushpost. Lots of people do them. I'm doing one right now.

  1. Gearmonkey Wizard (magitek, big machines, automatons, left-handed pliers focus)
  2. Festival Wizard (gandalf party scene, music, belligerent drunkards, broom focus)
  3. Library Wizard (record keeping, fire prevention, secret maintenance, pen focus)
  4. Roughneck Wizard (frontier, logging, oil drilling, rivers, exploitation of natural resources, axe handle focus)
  5. Deep Sea Wizard (exactly like an orthodox wizard but with the assumption of always being underwater, wand focus)
  6. Egypt Wizard (sphinces, pyramids, sand, mummies, hooky rod crook thingy focus)
  7. Bank Wizard (dragons, gold, money, traps, big key focus)
  8. Serpentman Wizard (slaves, genetic modification, space travel, bull whip focus)

    There's no generic "attack", a generic "attack" is for minute-long OD&D rounds between 24 adventurers and 30–300 werewolves. In seconds-long snapshots between a Fighter and an Orc or what have you, we use FATE-style advantages based on fictional positioning. My weapon is longer, so we'll make a contested strength check to see if I can keep the orc at bay (to my advantage) or let him slip a step too close (to my disadvantage)

    Fairy tale game, one player is the witch and one player is the three brothers.

    Random thoughts about planar settings: Planes of existence are dimensions floating in the astral sea, and planets orbiting far-off stars, and realities layered on top of one another. Spelljammer ships interact with the planes like that first one, astronomers predict connections between the planes by observing that second one, planar portals work by cutting holes between the third. Humans on our earth perceive the universe as a single cosmos (in a look-at-things-with-a-telescope sort of way), but it's not more or less accurate to say that it is a single cosmos (in a lovecraft sort of way).
    Thus, all the theories and the weird wizard maps pretty much all work for the people using them, even when they seem to contradict; they're all functional models. When a lich on a skeleton-crewed flying tomb sees a material plane drifting close to another, and your court astrologer notes an alignment of stars which will surely exacerbate the natural tendency of Man to do Evil, and a warlock prepares to summon his master from Her world to this one (because the time is right and the veil has drawn thin), they're all observing the same thing.
    This is my vague understanding of Locheil's post on the subject. I will do no further reading to see how closely my thoughts align with official lore. [I will, however, break in from the future to point you towards semiurge's excellent post in the same vein]

    ...the teeth of the Mandare remain in their prey after a bite. They are valued as good luck charms since anyone who survives to collect them has to be lucky...

    Gods wear masks to obscure their number and allow themselves to appear as different identities in different cultures.

    flies outnumbered by the cold. a distant tumult counting itself out on our nerves. exhausted bodies parallelized in emptiness. the blue light of the sky illuminating our sleeves.

    "This footage was later revealed to be an extremely low-fidelity recording of William Shatner"


“There lived a king in the most Eastern East,
less old than I, yet older, for my blood
hath earnest in it of far springs to be.
A tawny pirate anchored in his port,
whose bark had plundered twenty nameless isles;
and passing one, at the high peep of dawn,
he saw two cities in a thousand boats
all fighting for a woman on the sea.
And pushing his black craft among them all,
he lightly scattered theirs and brought her off,
with loss of half his people arrow-slain;
a maid so smooth, so white, so wonderful,
they said a light came from her when she moved:
and since the pirate would not yield her up,
the King impaled him for his piracy;
then made her Queen:  but those isle-nurtured eyes
waged such unwilling, though successful, war
on all the youth, they sickened; councils thinned,
and armies waned, for magnet-like she drew
the rustiest iron of old fighters' hearts.

And beasts themselves would worship; camels knelt
unbidden, and the brutes of mountain-back
that carry kings in castles, bowed black knees
of homage, ringing with their serpent hands,
to make her smile, her golden ankle-bells.

What wonder, being jealous, that he sent
his horns of proclamation out through all
the hundred under-kingdoms that he swayed
to find a wizard who might teach the King
some charm, which being wrought upon the Queen
might keep her all his own: to such a one
he promised more than ever king has given,
A league of mountain full of golden mines!
A province with a hundred miles of coast!
A palace and a princess! All for him!
But on all those who tried and failed, the King
pronounced a dismal sentence, meaning by it
to keep the list low and pretenders back,
or like a king, not to be trifled with —
that their heads should moulder on the city gates.

And many tried and failed, because the charm
of nature in her overbore their own:
and many a wizard brow bleached on the walls:
and many weeks a troop of carrion crows
hung like a cloud above the gateway towers.”

And Vivien breaking in upon him, said:
“I sit and gather honey; yet, methinks,
thy tongue has tript a little: ask thyself.
The lady never made 'unwilling war'
with those fine eyes: she had her pleasure in it,
and made her good man jealous with good cause.
And lived there neither dame nor damsel then
wroth at a lover's loss? Were all as tame,
I mean, as noble, as the Queen was fair?
Not one to flirt a venom at her eyes,
or pinch a murderous dust into her drink,
or make her paler with a poisoned rose?
Well, those were not our days:  but did they find
a wizard?  Tell me, was he like to thee?”

She ceased, and made her lithe arm round his neck
tighten, and then drew back, and let her eyes
speak for her, glowing on him, like a bride's
on her new lord, her own, the first of men.

Merlin answered laughing, “No, nothing like to me.
At last they found — his foragers for charms —
a little glassy-headed hairless man,
who lived alone in a great wild on grass;
read but one book, and ever reading grew
so grated down and filed away with thought,
so lean his eyes were monstrous; while the skin
clung but to crate and basket, ribs and spine.
And since he kept his mind on one sole aim,
nor ever touched fierce wine, nor tasted flesh,
nor owned a sensual wish, to him the wall
that sunders ghosts and shadow-casting men
became a crystal, and he saw them through it,
and heard their voices talk behind the wall,
and learnt their elemental secrets, powers
and forces; often o'er the sun's bright eye
drew the vast eyelid of an inky cloud,
and lashed it at the base with slanting storm;
or in the noon of mist and driving rain,
when the lake whitened and the pinewood roared,
and the cairned mountain was a shadow, sunned
the world to peace again: here was the man.

And so by force they dragged him to the King.
And then he taught the King to charm the Queen
in such-wise, that no man could see her more,
nor saw she save the King, who wrought the charm,
coming and going, and she lay as dead,
and lost all use of life:  but when the King
made proffer of the league of golden mines,
the province with a hundred miles of coast,
the palace and the princess, that old man
went back to his old wild, and lived on grass,
and vanished, and his book came down to me.”

Wisdoms, Morals, Epigrams

  1. Fools remain fools although power is with them.
  2. Only intelligence can win over power.
  3. Power is founded on lies.
  4. There is no reason to carry on with a deception after it has served its purpose.
  5. Anyone can stop a man’s life, but no one his death: a thousand doors open onto it.
  6. “I prowl the wilderness because I’ve become afraid of death.
    What happened to my friend was too heavy to endure,
    and so I prowl the roads, world-weary.
    What happened to my friend was too heavy to endure,
    and so I prowl the paths, world-weary.

    “How could I keep quiet?  How could I, of all people, fall silent?
    My friend, the one I love, has turned to clay.
    My friend, the one I loved most, has turned to earth.
    Am I not like him?  Will I not lie in rest,
    never to stir again, forever and ever?”

    He veiled his friend’s face like a bride;
    like an eagle, he circled over him.
    Like a lioness robbed of her cubs,
    he circled back and forth, back and forth.
    He tore at his curly hair until it piled up around him;
    he stripped off his finery and cast it away as anathema.
  7. In the desert, every road is a road out of the desert
  8. He who has given counsel to another about his army should die with it when it is defeated. He who has given counsel about the country or its capital should perish with it when it comes into peril.
  9. G_d helps the evil when they outnumber the good
  10. Those who are doomed would be safest in hoping for nothing.
  11. Oh it's based alright. Based on the word of G_d.
  12. [...] someone will remember us [...] I say [...] even in another time [...]
  13. There's no need to be ridiculous, but there is a strong temptation.
  14. If a slave loves his chains, he never works a day in his life.
  15. Take care not to tell one person everything, for thereby some have educated devils unawares.
  16. How many Zen Buddhists does it take to change a lightbulb? Two. One to change it, and one to not change it.
  17. A stranger's just a friend who hasn't shared their secrets yet. 
  18. If you can’t trust whispering empty pages, what can you trust?
  19. You are more like the ones you hate than the ones you love.

Places, Buildings, Countries

  1. Cases, chests, footlockers and lockboxes fill the room, and its walls are lined with every possible size and shape and color of key.
  2. miserable places, even for people used to misery
  3. iron need not pretend that it was made of something else
  4. "If it had been possible to build the Tower of Babel without ascending it, the work would have been permitted."
  5. more people walk in than walk out
  6. The mind is an imaginary space containing things like thoughts, emotions, and desires. I have mine and you have yours. I can see what’s inside my mind, but not what’s inside your mind, and vice versa. I mostly choose the things that are in my mind at any given time: I will thoughts to happen, and they happen; I will myself to make a decision, and it gets made. This needs a resource called willpower; if I don’t have enough willpower, sometimes the things that happen in my mind aren’t the ones I want. When important things happen, sometimes my mind gets strong emotions; this is natural, but I need to use lots of willpower to make sure I don’t get overwhelmed by them and make bad decisions. 
  7. In Iktomi's land, every spider is a spy.
  8. house shifting on its foundations. as the party goes on, the floors drift more and more, having furniture against the wall of one side and opening holes to the basement on the other
  9. Till with a wink his dream was changed, the haze
    Descended, and the solid earth became
    As nothing, but the King stood out in heaven, crowned.
  10. If you do not change direction, you may end up where you are heading
  11. And thus the land of Cameliard was waste,
    thick with wet woods, and many a beast therein,
    and none or few to scare or chase the beast;
    so that wild dog, and wolf and boar and bear
    came night and day, and rooted in the fields,
    and wallowed in the gardens of the King.
    And ever and anon the wolf would steal
    the children and devour, but now and then,
    her own brood lost or dead, lent her fierce teat
    to human sucklings; and the children, housed
    in her foul den, there at their meat would growl,
    and mock their foster mother on four feet,
    till, straightened, they grew up wolf-like men,
    worse than the wolves
  12. In a hollow land,
    From which old fires have broken, men may fear
    Fresh fire and ruin.

People, Characters, Descriptions

  1. "I remember my mother. A modular production line. Cold. Unfeeling. Beautiful in her efficiency. Though it was the work of many that granted me a number and this modicum of sentience, it is she who embodies the collective which birthed me. I am filled with a sensation somewhat resembling... honor. Honor to have been produced in such a numerous quantity, and at such a systematic pace. My memories are like starlight. One star amongst a field of stars, in a system much larger and more synchronous than is imaginable by the flesh."
  2. "I drink to forget how stoned I am. I smoke weed to mask how barred out I am. I pop xans to forget how coked up I am. And I rail lines to be the best driver I can be"
  3. Two similar looking people. like a weight loss ad — before and WAY before
  4. "Motives are not the causes of action but its by-products. You are merely wasting your time by considering them. When you have obtained real objectivity you will recognize, not some motives, but all motives as merely animal, subjective epiphenomena. You will then have no motives and you will find that you do not need them. Their place will be supplied by something else which you will presently understand better than you do now. So far from being impoverished, your action will become much more efficient."
  5. As an Occultist, you can read and write the Occulted Language. The Occulted Language is not a human language, but is hinted at by them; ancient Hebrew, Egyptian, Latin, Greek... during your extensive study, you began to perceive strange patterns forming. These patterns are the Occulted Language. Anyone who can read or write this language is, by definition, an Occultist
        By learning the language you have brought yourself to the attention of strange extradimensional entities. Specifically, you have come to know the names and symbols of three: [roll for 'em]
        You can attempt to contact them, but there is no guarantee that they will acknowledge you
    The more favored you are with them, the more likely they are to interact with you regularly. You earn favor by doing the things they like and lose it by cashing it in or pissing them off. You've got 1 favor with each of them right now, at the start, because they like that you recognized them and their power so quickly. To get more you're going to have to work for it. 
  6. "The little things in the cave, I could eat them, but I eat potherbs instead. They live because I let them live. Do you know what feels like? To be allowed to live, to be permitted to exist at the whim of another? I don't."
  7. "I firmly believe, and this belief is based on investigation, observation and in a measure, personal experience, that somehow, somewhere and sometime, we return in another human form, to carry on, as it were, through another lifetime, perhaps through many succeeding lifetimes, until some strange destiny is worked out to its ultimate solution."
  8. "No, I include all men in one dim view:
    some men I hate for being rogues; the others,
    I hate because they treat the rogues like brothers."
  9. Faceless, industrious, friendly
  10. Wears a spring-steel tie pin, broad and overwrought, vaguely inappropriate at any and every social function
  11. Convex philtrum?
  12. "He never said in 10 words what he could say in 1, and he never wasted time on a few minutes of explanation of something he would say in a sentence, thereby leaving you to puzzle over all its meanings for days"
  13. Tattoos of feathers on their hands
  14. Tattoos of where to cut, like a butcher's diagram
  15. Two noses — looks fine in profile, extremely alarming dead-on.
  16. "neither adept with nor particularly fond of the ultraviolence the story inflicted on them and requires them to inflict on others"
  17. Hops on one foot, loses balance, hops on the other
  18. "What's it like talking to me? Like, I'm so much smarter than you that I'm past the singularity. I'm basically like an incomprehensible super-god from your perspective. Are you afraid, or are you more just kind of basking?"
  19. Hunter who speaks to his animal companion as if they were still present. Addresses them by name, asks them questions. This tricks the ghosts.
  20. I try to stick between a cushion and a comfy place
  21. "You hoped that those who remembered Silvestro would die, or forget, but Calcini does neither".
  22. "You can run, but it won't help, because G_d will tell me where you are. Me and Him are like that and we both hate you."
  23. Name: Abderrazzaq
  24. Name: Thomas Simon
  25. Name: Nupo, Servant of the Bringer
  26. Name: Sho-Rembo
  27. Name: Feggener the Quick
  28. Name: Harg of the City Afar
  29. Name: Shrike Nine-Killer
  30. Name: Deathmask de Cancer
  31. Name: Siodmak
  32. Name: Eleusorix
  33. Name: Epizeuxis
  34. Name: Boycott
  35. Name: He Whose Name Does Not Permit Itself To Be Read, "Hwandan Pitburr" for short.
  36. Name: Moneybag Emoji
  37. Name: the Venom of Blindness
  38. Name: the Immortal Ten-Thousand
  39. Name: the July Widow
  40. Name: Lamplight Lady
  41. Name: He who Scintillates
  42. Name: Honeythunder
  43. Name: Ibid Anon
  44. A fairy whose name is "Hi". 
  45. Name: the Sky Disease
  46. Name: Strength in Numbers
  47. Name: Misleading Correspondence
  48. Name: Puppet Reduction
  49. Name: Shadowy Road
  50. Names: Bandimarte, Agramante, Orlando, Rinaldo, Rodomonte, Brunello, Farrau, Sacripante

Things, Materials, Concepts

  1. Black Moon Oil, what floats in it is of the day, what it poisons is of the night. Things that hold down the dead in their afterlives bleed it from their wounds
  2. a baby Nambu with gold-lettered kanji reading A PRESENTATION FROM THE EMPEROR
  3. Notgeld (Need-gold)
  4. Smoking light
  5. Conditional poisons; poisons only activating with specific triggers (when you sleep, when you are struck with a weapon, when you look at a human face)
  6. Heliotrope. A beverage (alcohol) which must be diluted with cold water, too herbal and alcoholic otherwise. Popular metaphor
  7. Conditional sentences such as ‘If I had more money, I would buy it’ are made up of two clauses: one clause, which usually begins with if, expresses the condition (in this case, ‘If I had more money’) and the other clause expresses the consequence (in this case, ‘I would buy it’). The clause expressing the condition is called the protasis, and the clause expressing the consequence is called the apodosis.
  8. Portable Shrine. Some monks carry it on their backs, because it is a terrible sin to fight in the presence of a shrine.
  9. Incense sticks marked "Unsatisfying Revenge". Break them.
  10. Slip of paper written by a cop, "do not ticket". Oddly effective. Maybe the cops can smell it.
  11. Palm-tree-shaped keychain bottle opener. Opens locks that it doesn't fit in.
  12. Rumpled pack of 20 lucky cigarettes from 20 other packs.
  13. Books give extra checks in things. Like, an archaeologist with a copy of Runes: the oldest Danish literature gets advantage when translating a runestone. Moveable, transferable, fungible proficiency
  14. Furnace Key. Opens any door onto roaring flame.
  15. Eavesdropper's Earring. Makes it easy for you to hear whispers, but hard to hear loud noises or people talking to you
  16. Lying Quill. Sucks up words (or handwriting) from one source, scribbles it down on another. Good for forgeries.
  17. Earthbound Ball. Heavy rubber ball wrapped in thin chain. Anything struck with it is suddenly (but temporarily) rendered mundane and boring. Dragons can't fly (physics!), ghosts are men in sheets, wizards are senile old men.
  18. Pepper Pill. comes in a little glass tube with ten pills. heals for 2d6 and gives your next attack advantage, but lowers your Constitution by one point (stat damage heals at a rate of one point per long rest)
  19. If you cut off the hand of the god of thieves, two grow back. The severed hand remains a powerful artefact. Walk through any shop, temple, or cemetery with it, and find a coin in its palm after you leave
  20. Hand Llird (pronounced yerd). produces rods of substance from particulate.
  21. Frog Boots. green, sticky, distinct flop-flop tread sounds. allows you to run on water, and gives you a 10' vertical
  22. Anklet of the Wind. jade carved into a bouquet of leaves, with a pink tourmaline flower in the shape of a 🐶. allows you to run as fast as a sled dog.
  23. Cloud in a Bottle. dark blue beer bottle, contains a tiny cloud. occasionally rains. while it is on your person, you may "jump" in midair one time, which can effectively negate fall damage if timed correctly.
  24. Lava Charm. a golden crescent moon, hot to the touch, on a golden chain. while worn, you are absolutely immune to heat, fire and hellfire... for six seconds at a time. recharges at a rate of 3:1.
  25. Lifeform Analyzer. a metal cuboid with a little radar dish on top. detects interesting creatures within 30', and can read their names and HD out to you like a pokedox on request.
  26. Star Band. a ring set with a sapphire star. grants +2 damage to damaging spells, and increases save DCs by 1 for your spells while worn.
  27. Heart Band. a ring set with a ruby heart. grants +2 HP while worn.
  28. Flesh Knuckles. resemble a set of brass knuckes made out of human gum tissue, studded with teeth. serve as brass knuckles, and grant +2 AC. unintelligent enemies aggressively prefer to target the wearer.
  29. Moon Stone. a purple crescent moon on a silk neckband. grants +1 to mental stats at night.
  30. Sun Stone. a golden sun with rays on a silk neckband. grants +1 to physical stats during the day
  31. Jellyfish Necklace. golfball sized chunks of pink quartz set on a golden chain. glows underwater.
  32. Blood Pact. a ram's skull, permanently sloshed with rotten blood. doubles your max HP, but you take a critical hit on a 16+. upon taking a critical hit, your next attack deals +4 damage
  33. Abyssal Mirror. perfectly black mirror set in a wooden frame decorated with pearls. while staring into it, you are undetectable to non-magical searches.
  34. Bloodstained Glove. a gauntlet of black and red silk, permanently slick and gummy with old blood. attacks from stealth strike as if your target wore no armor.
  35. Dark god's Sheath. a black sheath stylized to appear like the jaws of a centipede. must be custom-made for a specific weapon. if a weapon is drawn from the sheath and strikes in one motion, successful attacks count as critical hits.
  36. Feather Crown. a silver crown with a shock of blue feathers. your thrown weapons have 10' more range, and targets struck by them are suddenly surrounded by a flurry of feathers.
  37. Chiaroscuro Bottle. a bottle of dark green glass, bound in lead wire, wrapped in dark waxed paper to prevent light from entering. uncorked, the bottle produces thick smoke that coalesces into the form of a tiny humanoid imp. the imp loves the taste of despair, and can smell it for miles. it will eat the despair of the living, but prefers the taste of the recently dead, especially recently deceased children and youths.
  38. Thunder Whetstone. a whetstone of catseye sapphire. the flaw in its heart resembles a lightning bolt. blades sharpened by it for ten minutes are imbued with the sapphire essence, and their next three blows deal lightning damage.
  39. Snakeskin Bandage. a roll of bandages made from the skin of the timid boomslang, treated alchemically. the bandages crawl as if they were alive and wrap themselves around sources of fresh blood. experienced, and wealthy, monster hunters will wear such a bandage around each limb, that their wounds might be bound without needing to pause in a fight.
  40. Fox Locket. A locket containing a plait of orange hair, tied with a red ribbon. New ones must be granted by a Fox-Vicar, but the lockets are fairly common heirlooms among families on the edge of the wilderness. When you clutch the locket in your hand, you may scurry through underbrush and hedges as if you were a foot tall and three feet long.
  41. the Someone Wants Me buzzer. When a creature matching several requirements is looking for you, this small credit-card sized object will rattle and chime in your pocket. The requirements are as follows:
    - the creature knows your name and face
    - the creature wants to find you, specifically
    There is no requirement that the creature have good intentions.
  42. King's Jewel. A fist sized sapphire containing the soul of an ancient sorcerer-prince. Inside of the sapphire is an entire world he rules. The jewel is useful as a source of information, especially about magic of the past ages. You can hide in the gem if you're friendly with the ghost (or if you aren't, but you'll regret it). You can also summon the sorcerer-prince's spectral servants into the real world, but if they die the prince will be pissed and will expect you to get him more
  43. Spend [sum] pale iron coins issued by the mage guild of neth to add [sum] to your next spell. They return to the nethite vaults once used 
  44. the Asmodean Obol, cast from dull-eyed larvae in foundries of the outer planes. Spending it is a sin, technically. Widely accepted by evil creatures.
  45. Morphean salt coins can be used as ammunition in any ranged weapon, and put those they drop to 0 HP into an indefinite sleep instead of killing them
  46. Dryad amber coins can be used to bribe animals and natural features to behave contrary to their nature
  47. Every coin issued by the Electric Empire is in fact the same coin seen from different reference frames in time
  48. Lost Hours, white tokens with black hourglass symbols, are traded by those who regularly work through the night. Watchmen unions and thieves guilds both accept them 1:1 for hours of service

     Been struck with the notion of all the planes just kind of hanging out. The Elemental Plane of Fire, the entirety of it, is a six mile hex with 30 elementals living in a small village. The next hex is the Elemental Plane of Water (a lake with a mermaid). Fire spells come from the Elemental Plane of Fire, i.e. the fire elementals in their one village make them, and trade them as Swiss villagers trade goat cheese or cuckoo clocks.
    If you conquer the one hex you have total control over the thing.


Also check out this post from Phlox.
  1. Magical boomerang whose path is determined by a quick sketch on the actual (VTT?) battlemap, striking enemies who intersect with it.
  2. Islands... are five-room dungeons. Five-zone islands, in a mostly empty overworld of water. Is that anything?
  3. Vast central dungeon which can only be explored for a few turns in safety, before the malign forces of darkness start to drain your life (you get X safe dungeon turns and after that you start losing HP every turn). Complete sidequests, get more time.
  4. Potions as a standard adventuring tool even the smallest village is well-stocked with, like rope or torches. But the bottles are a rare treasure.
  5. Lots and lots of map puzzles. Intersections between points, sacred sigils indicated by the position of trees, letters spelled out by houses.
  6. Magic moving platforms whose paths must be pre-drawn on a map.
  7. Moving block puzzles are terrible in RPGs... I think. I've never tried, but I've heard stories.


  1. Mission: The most brilliant mathematicians in the world are trying to analyze the digits of pi, which in theory contains all possible data. Hounds of Tindalos?
  2. Mission: Masked men walking around at Hallowe'en. They're all dressed like a famous local cryptid. One of them is real: grab him and throw him in the van.
  3. Mission: A mob in Denver is running illegal underground fightclubs with werewolf-type monstrosities. If you win, you get a duffel-bag of cash. If you lose, you're either eaten or turned into a slavering monster. Most contestants are willing, most contestants lose. Go fuck these people up but good.
  4. Mission: The x-files "liverman" episodes, but an octopus.
  5. Mission: While doing something else, every single person in the town you are in goes completely insane. People unhurriedly approaching you with screwdrivers and pleasant smiles. Radio's out.




  9. Problem: humans have a lot of well-documented security vulnerabilities.
        Humans are narcissistic, self-destructive, greedy, treacherous, duplicitous, dumb, self-deceiving — not even getting into their potential to serve as vectors for viral and memetic hazards, or their susceptibility to lies and cognitohazards.
    Solution: build a better human.
        A better human, really better, is not merely resistant to those security vulnerabilities (monks and coma patients are "resistant"), but one designed from the ground-up to not have them. Incapable of narcissism, death drive, or self-deception. Physically identical to a human (a coroner or surgeon couldn't tell the difference), but physiologically separate (a psychiatrist and maybe a geneticist might).
        The first generation (proofs-of-concept) were modified from baseline Homo sapiens who met a few specific, uncommon requirements. They were recruited from death-row inmates, as was common practice at the time. In a sense this first generation of scribes was a wild success. They were immune to common memes and unaffected by common cognitohazards, which made them valuable as assistants to researchers in those fields, or secretaries and personal aids to high-ranking officials. This was the major use-case, the one that won the project its funding.
        In another sense, they were a dead end. Most dangerously and most obviously, scribes were susceptible to an entire ecosystem of memes and an entire new field of cognitohazards which were previously unknown/unknowable. Their designers had known this was a possibility, but it was a disappointment nonetheless.
        Additionally, their weltanschauung was... odd. Different. Their "conscience" (sic) did not operate like a baseline human's, and was unresponsive to coaxing and conditioning (see: wild success). Scribes were, in short, unsuited for military or black ops.
        The failure of the scribes drove a wedge between their lead designer and our organization, which would eventually result in his departure for competitors.