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! 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 you.

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.